Decision 2021

Ciattarelli Won't Concede to Murphy, Says Election Result Will Be ‘Legal and Fair'

Ciattarelli also addressed comments online raising as-yet unfounded concerns about the integrity of the election, telling people not to fall "victim to wild conspiracy theories or online rumors"

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The result of New Jersey's election for governor will be “legal and fair" no matter the outcome, Republican candidate Jack Ciattarelli said Thursday in his first comments since The Associated Press declared incumbent Democrat Phil Murphy the election's winner.

Ciattarelli has not conceded the election.

“No one should be declaring victory or conceding the election until every legal vote is counted,” Ciattarelli said in the 2-minute video clip posted on Twitter.

Ciattarelli, a former Assembly member, said he will wait for the state's 21 counties to complete counting thousands of mail-in and other ballots, which could take until next week, before deciding whether to ask for a recount.

Under state law, there is no automatic recount and the party seeking one must file a suit in state Superior Court in the county where the recount is requested.

The AP called the race Wednesday evening when a new batch of votes from Monmouth County — which Ciattarelli won by nearly 20 percentage points — increased Murphy’s lead and closed the door to a Ciattarelli comeback.

Ballots remaining to be counted include a significant number of votes from predominantly Democratic Essex County, along with mail-in votes spread across other counties. Murphy has won the mail-in vote by a wide margin even in Republican-leaning counties like Monmouth.

At the time of AP's call, there was still a significant number of ballots to be counted in Democrat-leaning counties, including Essex and Mercer. That's why Murphy's lead continued to grow after AP declared him the winner.

Mail ballots made up a little more than 20 percent of all votes in New Jersey. Democrats across the country have dominated mail-in voting since the 2020 presidential election, after former President Donald Trump claimed, without evidence, that they were susceptible to fraud. Since then, Republicans have been much less likely to vote by mail, even in states where they traditionally won the mail vote.

Ciatterelli took the lead in the vote count Tuesday night as Republican-leaning counties reported their votes faster than the more Democratic counties, and with many counties yet to report results from their mail ballots. The race flipped for Murphy Wednesday morning after more votes came in from Burlington, Bergen, Hudson and Camden.

As of Thursday evening, Murphy's lead stood at 44,000 votes out of nearly 2.5 million votes counted. His margin over Ciattarelli was 1.8 percentage points.

New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy narrowly won reelection Wednesday, eking out a victory that spared Democrats the loss of a second gubernatorial seat. NBC New York's Brian Thompson reports.

Ciattarelli also addressed comments online raising as-yet unfounded concerns about the integrity of the election.

“I don’t want people falling victim to wild conspiracy theories or online rumors,” he said. "While consideration is paid to any and all credible reports, please don’t believe everything you read or see online.

“I promise you, whatever the outcome, the election result will be legal and fair," he added.

The narrow margin surprised many and went against public polling in the race, which indicated Murphy had a bigger lead. On Thursday, one of those pollsters published an op-ed apologizing for missing the margin in the race. “I blew it,” said Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray.

Murphy became the first Democrat to win reelection in 44 years. In a speech Wednesday night, he indicated he will carry on the progressive policies he pursued in his first term.

Ciattarelli, know as a moderate while in the Legislature, campaigned against the state's high taxes and said Murphy had swung the state too far to the left. He's also courted supporters of former President Donald Trump by praising his policies and saying he supported him in 2020.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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