Murphy, Ciattarelli in close fight for New Jersey governor’s race
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy appeared to be in a close fight Tuesday with Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli as he waged a reelection campaign centered on the progressive policies he’s enacted in his first term.
The Associated Press has not declared a winner in the race as votes were still being tallied. But returns showed Ciattarelli with a slight lead over the first-term incumbent on a night that imparted some bad omens for Democrats.
Murphy has been leading in the polls, has a 1 million-voter registration advantage and had more cash in his campaign coffers than Ciattarelli in the final days of the race. But the Republican has far surpassed his predecessor four years ago in fundraising and has seen the gap in public polls move in his favor — if only by a few points.
At Murphy’s election night party in Asbury Park’s convention hall, the crowd went from cheering early results reported on TV to milling around the cavernous venue and checking their phones. At Ciattarelli’s camp in Bridgewater, the crowd was breaking out into periodic cheers, and Ciattarelli’s running mate, former state senator Diane Allen, told the crowd to "stick around."
At 12:30 a.m., Ciattarelli said he couldn’t yet declare a victory because votes remained to be counted, but said he fully expected to make a victory declaration once that happens.
"We’ve sent a message to the entire nation. This is what I love about this state: Every single time it’s gone too far off track, the people of this state have pushed, pulled and prodded it right back to where it needs to be," he told the crowd.
While a Ciattarelli win would send a jolt of surprise through state and national politics, a win by Murphy would also break some historical trends.
No Democrat has won reelection as governor in New Jersey since Brendan Byrne in 1977, and the party opposite the president’s has won the New Jersey governorship going back to 1985.
A closer look at the contests and what’s at stake:
All 120 seats in New Jersey’s Legislature are on the ballot, and with them Democratic control of the Assembly and Senate.
Democrats control the Assembly with 52 seats to Republicans’ 28. In the Senate, Democrats have 25 seats to the Republicans’ 15. Republicans haven’t controlled the Legislature in two decades.
Among the most closely watched races this year are the 2nd District, which includes Atlantic County, and the 8th District, which covers parts of Atlantic, Burlington and Camden counties.
In the 2nd District, Republican Vince Polistina is up against Democratic Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo. Polistina is a former Assembly member, serving from 2008 to 2012. Mazzeo has served in the Assembly, representing the 2nd District, since 2014.
In the 8th District, Democrat Dawn Addiego is seeking reelection, running against Republican Assembly member Jean Stanfield. Addiego left the Republican Party in 2019 to join the Democrats.
New Jersey’s Legislature consists of 40 districts, which each send one senator and two Assembly members to Trenton. Assembly members serve two-year terms, while senators serve four-year terms except for the first election after the census, which comes this year, when they serve two-year terms.
Voters are being asked two questions this year. One asks whether to allow betting on New Jersey college teams or teams from other states whose games are played in New Jersey.
A separate question asks whether organizations that are permitted to hold raffles should be able to keep the money to support themselves.
Currently, only veterans and senior citizen groups may use the net proceeds from those games to support their groups. Other groups that are permitted to conduct raffles may use the proceeds from those games only for certain purposes.
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