Election Day, 2021. It is 6 a.m., the polls are officially open in New Jersey, and will remain open until 8 p.m. this evening as voters here decide who will serve as their governor for the next four years.
In a clash of candidates representing the two major parties, incumbent Democrat Phil Murphy faces Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli.
Murphy has mostly run by reminding voters of his stewardship during the COVID-19 pandemic, and by trying to alienate Ciattarelli for his position against mask and vaccine mandates for children, and as the member of a party whose base willfully participated in the empowerment of President Donald J. Trump. Ciattarelli himself attended a Stop the Steal rally to signal his rejection of the 2020 presidential election elections, even though he claimed not to understand the focus of the event. Murphy has also highlighted his progressive accomplishments as governor, including a millionaires’ tax, drivers’ licenses for non-citizens, an incremental pathway to a $15 minimum wage by 2025, and marijuana legalization.
For his part, Ciattarelli promises to cut taxes (though he refuses to say what he will cut), and, in his words, smaller and more effective government, in addition to reining in a corrupt state government. At a rally last night in Raritan, he said of Murphy, “This guy has failed seniors and veterans in nursing homes, mom and pop shops on Main Street, our kids who missed a year of school, every New Jerseyan waiting five hours at the division of motor vehicles, the black community, women, and every New Jerseyan in the path of Tropical Storm Ida. Thirty fewer New Jerseyans are with us today. If ever we needed one of those ‘get the hell off the beach moments [it was in the lead-up to the storm].’”
In addition to governor and multiple local elections, all 120 seats in the state legislature are at stake. Among these are the competitive state senate elections in LD2 and LD8. An open seat in LD16 has also especially fixed the attention of politics watchers.
In addition, there are two statewide ballot initiatives on the ballot, both pertaining to gambling.
One question has to do with expanding sports betting to college games and the other has to do with allowing organizations to use raffle money to fundraise for themselves.
For InsiderNJ’s General Election publication, please go here.