Jack Ciattarelli, the Republican candidate for New Jersey governor who smashed expectations of a big loss by nearly stunning incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy on Nov. 2, has finally conceded.
Ciattarelli on Friday said that he became aware late on Thursday that the remaining outstanding vote was not enough for him to overcome the projected winner.
"I called Gov. Murphy earlier today and congratulated him on his reelection and wished him well in serving the people of New Jersey," Ciattarelli said.
Ciattarelli surprised many, including New Jersey pollsters who later apologized, for his strong showing on Election Day earlier this month.
He held off conceding to Murphy for days while the final provisional and mail-in ballots were counted even though he trailed by 2.6%. The difference amounts to more than 65,000 votes. Unlike other politicians in recent times, however, neither he nor his campaign ever questioned the results or claimed voter fraud.
Ciattarelli, a former state assemblyman from central New Jersey, will concede in a speech Friday, a campaign source said. He will speak at 1 p.m. in Raritan.
“Let me be clear, no one on this team is alleging fraud or malfeasance, as we have not seen any credible evidence of that," said Ciattarelli's legal counsel Mark Sheridan in a statement last week.
Ciattarelli campaigned on a mix of traditional issues, like lowering the state's high property taxes, as well as against COVID-19 mandates.
Murphy became that first Democrat to win reelection as governor in 44 years. He focused principally on the progressive agenda he delivered in his first term, including higher taxes on the wealthy and a boosted minimum wage, among other programs.
Ciattarelli said last week that it was too early to concede the election or declare victory. He also urged supporters not to believe unfounded conspiracies and said the result — no matter the outcome — would be fair.
Murphy's victory was a bright spot for Democrats nationally, though the party lost the Virginia governor's race even after President Joe Biden carried the state by double digits in last year's election against Donald Trump.
Despite Murphy's win, Republicans had an unexpected and important victory in the Legislature, defeating Senate President Steve Sweeney and stunning officials across the state.
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.