Ciattarelli, a former state legislator, had remained silent on the results of the election since last Thursday, though the current vote count currently shows him trailing Murphy, a Democrat, by 2.6 percentage points, or a little more than 65,000 votes.
While some provisional and mail-in ballots have yet to be counted, Murphy’s campaign argued that it won’t be enough to alter the outcome of the race in Ciattarelli’s favor.
“The race is over,” Mollie Binotto, Murphy’s campaign manager, said in a statement. “Assemblyman Ciattarelli is mathematically eliminated, and he must accept the results and concede the race. His continuing failure to do so is an assault on the integrity of our elections.”
But Ciattarelli’s campaign said he would not yet concede the race to Murphy. In an email to reporters, the campaign said that there were still about 70,000 provisional ballots left to be counted, as well as an unknown number of mail-in ballots.
Ciattarelli’s legal counsel Mark Sheridan said that while the campaign doesn’t expect the provisional ballot count to put Ciattarelli in the lead, it could narrow the race enough to warrant a recount.
“We will make the decision to pursue a recount based on all of the facts, which includes that this is the first time New Jersey is conducting an election under the new law, using new technology and vote counting procedures,” Sheridan said in a statement.
Sheridan noted that Ciattarelli’s refusal to concede was not based on allegations of election fraud or malfeasance.
The race between Murphy and Ciattarelli became unexpectedly close last week despite pre-election polls showing the incumbent governor with a comfortable lead over his Republican rival.
While The Associated Press and other news outlets have called the race for Murphy, the election was one of several that served as a warning sign for Democrats as they head into the 2022 midterms.
Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the race for Virginia governor, delivering a stunning blow to Democrats in a state that has moved in their direction over the past decade. Republicans are also poised to take control of the Virginia House of Delegates.