A little after 12:30 a.m., both gubernatorial candidates dispersed crowds from their campaign events with the results of Tuesday’s general elections too close to call.
By Matt Skoufalos | November 2, 2021
New Jersey voters could have to wait several more days to discover who the next governor of their state will be, as both Democratic incumbent Phil Murphy and Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli sent supporters home Tuesday night with no clear winner in the race.
With nearly 90 percent of the results in by 3 a.m. Wednesday, Ciattarelli was holding onto an approximately 1,193-vote lead, according to estimates from the Associated Press, with 1,173,558 votes to Murphy’s 1,172,365.
An hour later, and that margin had fallen to fewer than 100 votes
But it wasn’t immediately clear to pollsters whether those totals included early voting results, and they definitely wouldn’t include all Vote by Mail ballots, which can be received by county Boards of Elections until 8 p.m. November 8, provided they are postmarked on or before Election Day (November 2).
The last gubernatorial recount in New Jersey was 30 years ago, when Democrat Jim Florio fell 1,787 votes shy of Republican Tom Kean for the highest office in the state.
Around 12:30 a.m., both candidates made it clear that they expected a dogfight to the end.
“We’re going to have to wait a little while longer than we had hoped,” Murphy said to a group of supporters in Asbury Park around 12:30 a.m. “We’re going to wait for every vote to be counted, and that’s how our democracy works.
“What we can already take from tonight is knowing that many of our friends and neighbors like us do not want to go backward,” Murphy said. “We’re all sorry that tonight yet could not be the celebration we wanted it to be.”
Ciattarelli sent a similar message to his supporters at an event in Raritan.
“I wanted to come out here tonight to tell you that we’d won,” he said; “but I’m here to tell you that we’re winning.
“We’ve got to have time to make sure that every legal vote is counted,” Ciattarelli continued. “I’m confident that when they are, I can stand before you and not say ‘We’re winning,’ [but] I can stand before you and say, ‘We’ve won.'”
Ciattarelli also took a swing at polling reports that had him trailing Murphy by double-digits at times throughout the campaign, including those from the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, which had the incumbent governor up about 8 percentage points heading into Election Day.
According to an Eagleton report released Monday, those same surveys showed that many respondents “are casting their vote not necessarily out of support for their candidate but in opposition to the opponent (24 percent) or because of their partisanship (18 percent).
“When asked verbatim why they are voting for their chosen candidate, voters say things like their choice is ‘better than the other guy’ or the ‘lesser of two evils,'” the report read.
“You know those polls?” Ciattarelli said Wednesday morning. “There’s only one poll that matters.”
New Jersey State Senate Race
Although no vote totals reported Tuesday evening were complete, and all are unofficial until certified by the Camden County Clerk, some races were easier to handicap by the end of the night than others.
Voters in New Jersey’s Sixth Legislative District (including those in Cherry Hill, Collingswood, Haddonfield, Haddon Township, Merchantville, Oaklyn, and Pennsauken) returned Democratic incumbent Jim Beach to his State Senate seat.
Republican challenger (and former Haddon Township Commissioner) John Foley trailed him by 17,270 votes (38,596 for Beach versus 21,326 for Foley) with 92 percent of precincts reporting.
With 75 percent of the results in from voters in the Fifth Legislative District (which includes Audubon, Camden City, and Haddon Heights), Democratic incumbent Nilsa Cruz-Perez had doubled up Republican challenger Clyde Cook, a pastor from Woodlynne, 15,497 votes to 7,684.
New Jersey State Assembly Race
In New Jersey’s Fifth Legislative District, incumbent Democratic Assemblymen Bill Moen (14,920 votes) and Bill Spearman (14,659 votes) lead Republican challengers Sean Sepsey (7,347) and Samuel DiMatteo (7,632) by a factor of two with 75 percent of the votes in.
In New Jersey’s Sixth Legislative District, incumbent Democratic Assemblyman Louis Greenwald (38,559 votes) and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (37,788) surpassed Republican challengers Ed Farmer (20,640) and Richard Super (20,261) with 94 percent of districts reporting.
Camden County Sheriff Race
Incumbent Camden County Sheriff Gilbert “Whip” Wilson faced no balloted opposition en route to his re-election.
Camden County Commissioners Race
With 88 percent of the results reported, incumbent Democrats Jeffrey Nash (74,205 votes), Melinda Kane (73,604), and Almar Dyer (71,352) retained their seats on the Camden County Board of Commissioners against Republican hopefuls Johanna Scheets (44,849), Jennifer Moore (45,997), and Rachel Boberg (44,344).
Contested Local Government Races
With all districts reporting in Audubon Park, Democratics Cathleen Lowe (198 votes) and Amy Paratore (197 votes) beat out Independent Kirsten Stokes (58) for two seats on the local government council.
With 96 percent of the vote reported, Cherry Hill incumbent Democratic Council members David Fleisher, (13,840 votes), Carole Roskoph (13,560), Sangeeta Doshi (13,377), and William A. Carter, III (13,335) retained their seats on the township government against Republican challengers Nicole Nance (7,953), David Lodge (7,825), Rossanna Parsons (7,786), and Diane C. Carr (7,907).
With 86 percent of precincts reporting in Haddon Heights, incumbent Democratic Council member Christopher Morgan (1,609 votes) and newcomer Kathryn Russo (1,603) defeated Republican hopefuls Kimberley Stuart (1,088) and Kevin Ehret (1,048) for two seats on the governing body.
With 67 percent of districts reporting in Merchantville, incumbent Democratic Councilman Daniel J. Sperrazza (600 votes) and challenger Cindy Morales-Butts (594) landed three times as many votes as Independent Adam Wallace (227) did.
In Oaklyn, incumbent Democratic Council members Christopher Walters (851 votes) and Nancy MacGregor (903) surpassed Republican Dominic Longo (455 votes), with all four districts reporting.
Contested School Board Races
With nearly 96 percent of returns in, Cherry Hill voters selected newcomers Jennifer Fleisher (10,962 votes) and Benjamin Rood (7,927), and incumbent Sally Tong (7,165) to represent them on the local school board. Ilana Yares (6,547 votes), Carolina Bevad (5,736), John Papeika (5,235), and Nicholas J. Gaudio, Jr. (4,952) fell short of the mark.
In Haddon Township, incumbents Allison Rodman (3,219 votes), David Ricci (3,019), and James Lex (2,910) fended off challenger Mark W. Henley, Jr. (1,415) for three seats on the township school board, with all precincts reporting.
In Oaklyn, voters returned incumbent school board members Denise Buczko (629 votes) and Therese Marmion (604) to their posts, along with challenger Amy Ezekiel (588). Robert Fink (411) was the odd man out, with all precincts reporting.
In Pennsauken, incumbent school board members Diane E. Johnson (3,524 votes), Scott LaVine (2,971), and Samer J. Jarbouh-Rafeh (2,496) defended their seats against challenger Nhuan Van (2,059) with all precincts reporting.
With nearly 98 percent of the returns in, New Jersey residents voted against betting on college athletics but in favor of allowing non-profit organizations to host “games of chance,” and devote the proceeds to their own operations. Previously, they had only been able to use these funds for charitable ends. NJ Spotlight explains each in greater depth here.
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