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Democrat Phil Murphy narrowly won reelection to remain governor of New Jersey Wednesday after spending most of the day being in a dead heat with Republican candidate Jack Ciattarelli. Murphy received 50.02% of the vote while Ciattarelli received 49.23% of the vote.

After months of campaigning and a war of words, the New Jersey gubernatorial race was in a dead heat for most of the day. On Tuesday the election was too close to call and no winner was declared. At one point Murphy was ahead by just over 450 more votes than Ciattarelli, splitting the election between them 50/50.

The New Jersey Division of Elections was still counting votes from nearly 160 voting districts including absentee and mail-in ballots.

At his election night gathering, Ciattarelli told his supporters he’s not conceding until every vote is counted. “I wanted to come out here tonight and tell you that we won. But I’m here to tell ya that we’re winning,” Ciattarelli said. “We want every legal vote counted. And you all know the way the VBMs (vote by mail) work and the provisionals work; we’ve gotta have time to make sure that every legal vote is counted.”

Murphy was also waiting until every vote is counted despite his slim lead on Wednesday. He urged his supporters to be patient. “While we’re going to have to wait a little while longer than we had hoped, we’re going to wait for every vote to be counted, and that’s how our democracy works,” Murphy said.

Looking at the election results by location, Ciattarelli had big gains in South and Northwest Jersey while Murphy was a stronghold in North and Central Jersey.

A supporter of former President Donald Trump, Ciattarelli was critical of Murphy’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and state tax policies. He also does not support critical race theory in schools, which became a major issue in the election. 

Meanwhile, Murphy touted his work creating opportunities for people of diverse backgrounds in New Jersey and continued efforts to fight against the pandemic with masks and vaccine mandates.

In New Jersey, if an election is too close to call candidates can request a recount by filing a lawsuit in State Superior Court. Candidates have 17 days after the election to file the lawsuit and can request the counties where votes are recounted. A Democratic Party governor hasn’t won reelection in the Garden State since 1977.

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