New Jersey’s Governor Race Sees Democrat and GOP Challenger Go Head to Head

By Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.
November 3, 2021 Updated: November 3, 2021

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli were the two main party candidates locked in a neck-and-neck battle on Tuesday as citizens of New Jersey voted for their next governor.

Polls closed at 8 p.m. on election day as New Jerseyans voted to decide whether to have another term with Democratic governor Murphy or elect former assemblyman Ciattarelli.

Murphy became New Jersey’s 56th governor on Jan. 16, 2018. If he were to win Tuesday’s vote, it would mark the first time a Democratic governor has been reelected in New Jersey since Brenden Byrne in 1977.

While there were at least five names to pick from for the state’s top post, Murphy and Ciattarelli were the two clear favorites, with Murphy, 64, leading by as much as 11 points according to a Monmouth University poll released last week.

But Ciattarelli, 59, is currently leading the way with 50.1 percent of the votes, according to a POLITICO poll. But Murphy isn’t far behind with 49.2 percent of the vote.

A key issue for Democrats in this years’ election is taxes. New Jersey homeowners pay the highest property taxes in the United States, with a 2.49 percent real estate tax rate, according to a March 2021 poll by WalletHub.

Ciattarelli’s campaign has promised to lower those taxes and freeze them altogether for homeowners who are aged 65 and above, regardless of income or length of residency.

Ciattarelli’s ads and campaign rhetoric frequently featured Murphy telling an audience that, “if you’re a one-issue voter and taxes are your issue … we’re probably not your state.”

The former assemblyman has also said he will restore state aid to struggling suburban, shore areas, and rural schools, make health care more affordable and protect medical freedom, including opposing mandatory vaccinations and so-called vaccine passports.

Meanwhile, Murphy’s campaign also focused on providing New Jerseyans with more affordable housing, criminal justice reform, and ramping up testing capabilities to 400+ sites statewide to ensure state residents have access to reliable, regular, and free COVID-19 tests, among other things.

He has also focused on key issues such as abortion and gun control, noting that Ciattarelli had called for banning abortions after 20 weeks and relaxing New Jersey’s gun control laws, which are among the strictest in the nation.

But unlike Ciattarelli, Murphy has not promised to cut property taxes. Instead, he told WNYC that higher taxes means, “the best public schools in America. It means among the best health care systems in America. It means a location second to none that we need to invest aggressively in.”

Voters across New Jersey were also casting ballots for a number of other things on Tuesday, including all 120 seats in the New Jersey State Legislature, and whether or not to allow betting on the state’s college teams or teams from other states who are playing there.

They also voted on whether or not organizations that are allowed to hold raffles should be able to keep the money they raise to support themselves. Currently, only veterans and senior citizen groups are permitted to do so.

Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.