TRENTON — In his first coronavirus press briefing since declaring victory in the Nov. 2 general election, Gov. Phil Murphy criticized his opponent Monday for continuing to delay conceding the race despite a 65,000-vote margin that makes an alternative outcome “mathematically impossible.”
Mr. Murphy, the first Democratic governor to win reelection in decades, said it was “incredibly dangerous” for Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli to withhold concession in light of the numbers, an apparent allusion to the continued claims of many Republicans that former President Donald Trump was not actually defeated in his 2020 reelection bid.
“When it’s mathematically impossible to win, I think it’s dangerous,” Gov. Murphy said. “It’s bigger than winning and losing, it gets to the question of what it is to be an American and respect the institution that we count on as a society, including democracy,” he said. “It’s not a question of whether or not the votes are going to get counted. They are going to get counted.”
With roughly 90 percent of votes counted, Gov. Murphy declared victory last week over Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli, with results on Nov. 8 showing the governor had a more than 65,000-vote lead, 1,285,351 to 1,219,906.
On Monday, the Ciattarelli campaign issued a statement from legal counsel Mark Sheridan that “waiting an additional day or two for all votes to be counted should not be controversial.”
“Let me be clear, no one on this team is alleging fraud or malfeasance as we have not seen any credible evidence of that,” he said, adding that there are 70,000 provisional ballots as well as vote-by -mail ballots still outstanding. While the campaign does not expect that Mr. Ciattarelli will be in the lead after the counting is complete, the counting may reduce the margin of victory “enough to warrant a full recount.”
In a video on social media last week, Mr. Ciattarelli said that it was too soon to declare victory in the race, and the campaign would do their part in making sure that the election result was “legal and fair.”
“No one should be declaring victory, or conceding the election until every legal vote is counted,” Mr. Ciattarelli said in a video that was posted on his Twitter account, @Jack4NJ.
Speaking on Meet the Press this past weekend, the governor said that it was “quite clear there is a lot of hurt out there.”
“There are a lot of kitchen tables that we have to connect more deeply with and help folks get through this period whether they lost a loved one, a job, a small business or they are frustrated by the ongoing pandemic or the economic recovery,” the governor said, adding that he “liked what we have been doing” and without it “we would have been swept away” in regards to an election day in which Democrats have in New Jersey and Virginia faced substantial electoral defeats.
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