Republican Jack Ciattarelli conceded his narrow loss to Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday, bringing a close to a campaign that stunned political observers by nearly pulling off an upset in a state President Biden won by 16 percentage points last year.
At a news conference in his hometown of Raritan, Ciattarelli told reporters that he had repeatedly consulted with election lawyer Mark Sheridan about whether he could actually win the election or request a recount.
“Late yesterday was the first time … that Mark Sheridan answered no,” Ciattarelli revealed. “And so I called Gov. Murphy earlier today and congratulated him on his re-election and wished him well in serving the people of New Jersey.”
As of Friday morning, with 98 percent of the expected vote in, Murphy led Ciattarelli by 2.9 percentage points — a margin of fewer than 74,000 votes out of 2.5 million cast.
“I’ve worked every day and night for 22 months to become New Jersey’s governor,” said Ciattarelli, addressing those who wanted him to hold out and not concede. “You think I’d be standing here today conceding if I thought I won this election? You couldn’t be more wrong. I hate to lose.”
The former General Assembly member emphasized that “there does not appear to be a path to victory or the basis for a recount nor do we know of any systemic or widespread fraud. So no, I see no proof that this election was stolen.”
Ciattarelli added that he did not see his loss as a failure but said he was “proud” of what his campaign had accomplished.
Murphy had declared victory with a perfunctory speech Nov. 3, shortly after the Associated Press projected that he would become the first Democrat to win a second term as the Garden State’s governor since Brendan Byrne in 1977.
“If you want to know what the future looks like, come to New Jersey,” Murphy told supporters in Asbury Park. “If you want to understand where America is heading, look to New Jersey. And, if you want to be governor for all of New Jersey, you must listen to all of New Jersey. And New Jersey, I hear you.”
“So tonight, I renew my promise to you, whether you voted for me or not, to work every single day of the next four years to keep moving us forward,” Murphy added. “Forward with renewed optimism to ensure greater opportunities for all 9.3 million who call this great state home.”
On Friday, Ciattarelli announced that he planned to run for governor of New Jersey again in 2025. It would be the third straight cycle in which he has sought the office. He ran for the Republican nomination in 2017, but lost out to then-Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno in the GOP primary.
“Our work is not done,” he said. “Let us fix New Jersey together.”