What to Know
- After trailing for much of Election Night, Democratic incumbent Phil Murphy on Wednesday pulled ahead of Republican opponent Jack Ciattarelli in the race for New Jersey's governorship.
- Across the Delaware River, Democratic incumbent Larry Krasner handily beat Republican challenger Charles Peruto Jr. in the Philadelphia district attorney's race.
- A Republican will serve a 10-year term on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy's bid to become the first Democrat re-elected to a second term in 44 years proved to be much more of a battle than any poll or political expert thought, but the Associated Press on Wednesday projected him the winner in a very tight battle.
The surprise battle with Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli ended on Wednesday evening after a surge of votes from areas of the state that historically have voted Democratic. That surge came Wednesday morning, putting Murphy in the lead after he trailed for much of the previous night, NBC News was reporting.
NBC News also projected Murphy the winner around 9 p.m.
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As recently as last week, public polls showed Murphy with a substantial lead among registered voters over Jack Ciattarelli, a former state assemblyman and businessman from central New Jersey. Still, political experts warned that Murphy's lead had shrunk in recent months and the New Jersey electorate has a penchant for changing their minds.
"We’re a liberal state, but reserve the right to change our mind," Professor John Farmer Jr., who is director of Rutgers University's Eagleton Institute of Politics and former chairman of the state's redistricting commission, told NBC10.
Ciattarelli's spokeswoman, in a tweet, called it "irresponsible" for the The Associated Press to project Murphy the winner "when the New Jersey Secretary of State doesn’t even know how many ballots are left to be counted."
"Last night was a historic one for New Jersey Republicans, who picked up at least a half dozen Assembly seats, several Senate seats, along with county and local seats up and down the state," Ciattarelli campaign spokeswoman Stami Williams said earlier Wednesday. "Jack is proud to lead our ticket and our party's resurgence. Right now, our team is focused on making sure all the legal votes are counted and our citizens can have confidence in the system."
In perhaps the most shocking result of Election Day in New Jersey, longtime state Senate President Steve Sweeney is trailing by more than 2,000 votes to a commercial truck driver named Edward Durr.
Sweeney has not yet conceded, but his loss throws leadership in the New Jersey Legislature into uncertainty. Durr, who spent just $153 on his campaign, would represent parts of Gloucester and Cumberland counties and all of Salem County. His mother told NBC10 on Wednesday that "not everybody has to have a lot of money to run. All they have to do is have a heart for the people, and he’s got a heart for the working people."
Across the Delaware River, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, a darling of the progressive criminal justice movement nationally, won re-election to a second term Tuesday, the Associated Press projected.
Krasner, a former defense attorney who has become a prominent figure in law enforcement reform during his first term, easily beat back a Republican challenger with little funding or campaigning.
His re-election campaign was closely watched in an off-year election that features no national races.
Polls closed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey at 8 p.m.
A lawsuit filed by the ACLU in New Jersey requested that polls stay open till 9:30 p.m. because of technical issues earlier in the day, but a judge declined to extend the polling hours.
Other races on the ballot included a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in an election cycle that built up anticipation for next year's midterms. The 2022 election will determine control of Congress for the final two years of President Biden's term.
Here is a look at the big races that were on top of voters' minds this year, including live results as they come in.
Gov. Phil Murphy Wins Re-Election in Nail-Biter
Murphy became the first Democrat to win re-election as New Jersey governor since former Gov. Brendan Byrne did it in 1977. Ciattarelli, a former state assemblyman, received a boost in an off-peak election cycle from an energized Republican electorate and deflated Democratic turnout, according to early indicators. In New Jersey, the governor's race, as usual, revolved around property taxes and the economy.
The race tightened slightly in the closing weeks, as it usually does in New Jersey, but Murphy held a commanding lead in two statewide polls released last week. One big variable in the race? One in 3 registered voters in New Jersey are unaffiliated with political parties, though registered Democrats do outnumber Republicans by about 1 million.
DA Larry Krasner Wins a Second Term
One of the darlings of the Democratic Party's progressive wing, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, faced Republican challenger Charles Peruto Jr. in the only contested citywide race on the ballot.
Krasner easily won the Democratic primary earlier this year, despite opposition from the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police union. In a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 7-to-1, Krasner was expected to cruise to victory even without a large voter turnout.
Peruto took his loss hard, though he joked with a reporter when asked for his reaction to the lopsided result.
"I feel like anyone would feel after getting creamed. ... I find it totally embarrassing," Peruto told a KYW Newsradio reporter Tuesday night. He added, "We did scientific research, and the reason Larry won is more people voted for him."
Philadelphia voters also got to make decisions on four important ballot questions.
Republican Elected to the Open Pennsylvania Supreme Court Seat
One of the seven seats on Pennsylvania's highest state court was open, with the retirement of a justice this year. Judicial elections in Pennsylvania are partisan, which means that candidates are affiliated with political parties.
Republican Kevin Brobson and Democrat Marie McLaughlin, both lower court judges in Pennsylvania, were nominated by their parties to replace the retiring Republican justice. Both raised a good chunk of money and had their campaigns aided with advertising bought by outside groups.
Amid light turnout around the state, Brobson beat Democrat McLaughlin to serve a 10-year term on Pennsylvania’s highest court, the Associated Press projected.
The high court has in recent years taken on voters' rights issues, including important rulings on mail-in ballots during the 2020 presidential election and a redistricting decision before the last congressional midterm election in 2018.
The political makeup of the court is currently five Democrats and two Republicans, including the retiring Republican justice. That means that it will remain a Democratic majority despite Brobson's win.
What Are Other Important Races in NJ & Pennsylvania on Nov. 2 Election Day?
Municipal elections, meaning races for mayor, local councils and school boards, were also on ballots across the Philadelphia region. There are also some special elections for vacant state legislative seats in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Here are live results for the races on ballots across Pennsylvania and New Jersey.