This photo from Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, shows Gov. Phil Murphy, D-N.J., (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, Pool)
The close race in New Jersey comes as the nation’s other gubernatorial race in Virginia is also too close to call late into Tuesday, though Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin continued to hold a commanding lead in the race for most of the evening.
While polls predicted a relatively comfortable win in New Jersey for Murphy, the incumbent governor faced many challenges on his path to reelection, most notably his heavy-handed approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Murphy made the controversial decision to have nursing homes readmit COVID-19 patients, a decision some critics say caused unnecessary deaths.
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Republicans have also hammered Murphy for his failure to address the state’s high property taxes, an issue the Democrat dismissed, reasoning if “you’re a one-issue voter and tax rate is your issue, we’re probably not your state.”
Murphy had an easier time winning the 2017 election, defeating Republican nominee Kim Guadagno by a margin of 55.7% to 42.2%.
NEWARK, NJ – OCTOBER 23: Former U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and New Jersey Governor Phil Governor Murphy (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images) (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
New Jersey was also a state that President Biden comfortably won last year, winning the state by nearly 16 points over former President Donald Trump.