November 30, 2021 6:47 pm
N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy, Jack Ciattarelli make closing arguments

N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy, Jack Ciattarelli make closing arguments

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy told voters Tuesday they must reelect him to preserve a battery of progressive reforms, arguing the state “cannot afford to go back” to old policies as GOP challenger Jack Ciattarelli claimed momentum in the final hours of the race.

“This is it, folks. Election Day is here,” Mr. Murphy, a Democrat, said in an Election Day video on Twitter. “For the past four years, our team has worked tirelessly to make New Jersey a stronger and fairer state for all. Progress that has positioned us as the number one state in America to raise a family and all the while making the Garden State work for everyone.”

Polls showed Mr. Murphy with a lead of about 6 to 8 points over Mr. Ciattarelli, a former state assemblyman, in the closing days of the race, down from a double-digit lead over the summer.

New Jersey Democrats have not been able to win a second gubernatorial term since 1977, so Mr. Murphy says he’s running like he’s “10 points behind.”

The incumbent is highlighting efforts to lift the minimum wage in the state to $15 per hour by 2024, to boost a robustly funded public-school system and to impose a “millionaire’s tax” to fund health care, education and infrastructure initiatives.

Mr. Ciattarelli says the state budget is bloated and that residents are fleeing the state because of a high tax burden — a point he’s made in ads that blanket the airwaves and pop up on YouTube. He is claiming momentum in the final days of the race.

“Internal polling in both camps has it as a dead heat,” he told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “Republicans have won six of the last 10 governor’s races and no incumbent Democratic governor has been reelected in more than 40 years. Not Jim Florio, not Jim McGreevey, not Jon Corzine and quite frankly, Phil Murphy is far left of all three of those combined, so we’re right where we need to be at this point in time.”

Mr. Murphy, meanwhile, is pointing to his progressive record as a key selling point.

“We can not afford to go back to the way things used to be when New Jersey only worked for the wealthy and the well-connected at the expense of the middle class,” he said Tuesday. “This election is too important to sit out.”

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