Murphy Wins Reelection: On Wednesday evening, Governor Murphy returned to the stage at the Grand Arcade on the Asbury Park boardwalk, the same election night stage he stood on about 24 hours earlier, to declare victory. A few hours earlier, the Associated Press called the race for Murphy, who leads Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli by approximately 19,400 votes – or less than a percentage point. Murphy has become the first Democrat in to be re-elected New Jersey governor since Brendan Byrne in 1977.
“Let’s try this again,” Governor Murphy told the crowd of more than 200 people at the Asbury Park venue. “We just had the most New Jersey experience. I was on my way some place, and it took us longer to get here than we planned. As a matter of fact, some might say it took 44 years to get here.”
In the 10 counties where Murphy won or is currently leading, the number of people whose votes have been counted so far is about 6% higher than in 2017. The biggest increase in a county that voted for Murphy was in Burlington, where turnout rose by about 17%. In the 11 counties won by Ciattarelli or where he is ahead, turnout is 17% higher than four years ago. These include Ocean County, which has the highest increase reported so far, about a 31% increase in the number of people who voted this year, compared with 2017.
Ciattarelli has not conceded. His campaign said it was “irresponsible” to call the race before all the votes were counted. The state Republican Party noted that a night before, when the race was still too close to call, Murphy said he would hold a celebration “when every vote is counted.”
Senate President Sweeney Appears to have Lost: The most unexpected legislative result of the 2021 General Election was in Legislative District 3, where Senate President Stephen Sweeney appears to have been defeated by a relatively unknown Republican opponent, Edward Durr. Senator Sweeney’s district running mates, Assemblyman John Burzichelli and Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro have also likely been defeated by Republican challengers Beth Sawyer and Bethann McCarthy Patrick although official results are still pending.
In a statement released today, Sweeney said, “While I am currently trailing in the race, I want to make sure every vote is counted. Our voters deserve that, and we will wait for the final results.”
Coughlin Expected to be Reconfirmed as Speaker: Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19) was re-elected to his Assembly seat and has scheduled a caucus meeting on Wednesday. He very likely has enough votes secured to return as Speaker of the General Assembly in the 2022-23 Legislative Session.
Key Legislative Results: With an unknown number of ballots still uncounted and a number of races still undecided, Republicans made their best showing in years, picking up two seats in the Senate — although that was offset by the loss of another seat — and at least six in the Assembly. If that stands, that will allow Democrats to retain control of the Senate by a margin of 24-16 and of the Assembly by 46-34.
In Legislative District 2, Republican Vince Polistina defeated Democrat challenger Vince Mazzeo who left his Assembly seat to run for the State Senate. Republicans Claire Swift and former Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian picked up both Assembly seats, defeating incumbent Democratic Assemblyman John Armato in the process.
In Burlington County’s Legislative District 8, Democratic Senator Dawn Addiego, who switched her party affiliation in 2019, lost her seat to Republican challenger and former Burlington County Sheriff Jean Stanfield. Stanfield’s running mates Michael Torrissi and Brandon Umba both won Assembly seats.
In Legislative District 11, Senator Vin Gopal maintains a razor thin lead (less than 1,000 votes) over his Republican challenger Lori Annetta. Annetta’s running mates Marilyn Piperno and Kimberly Eulner appear on track to defeat Assembly Democrat incumbents Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey.
Democrats are also in a tightly contested race in the 16th Somerset/Hunterdon District, where Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker left a seat to run for an open state Senate seat. Zwicker declared victory on Wednesday night and maintains a narrow lead over his GOP opponent, former U.S. Rep. Michael Pappas although results are not yet official. Zwicker’s running-mate, Assemblyman Roy Freiman currently leads in the vote for the Assembly seats, with his running mate Montgomery Mayor Sadaf Jaffer has a 218-vote lead over Republican challenger Vincent Panico.