After a surge in voter turnout, N.J. Republicans say they’ve ‘just begun’

Last week’s historic election showed many Republicans in New Jersey felt enthused about heading to the polls and supporting their candidates.

The Associated Press on Wednesday called the gubernatorial race for incumbent Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy, but it was much closer than public polling had indicated.

GOP nominee Jack Ciattarelli came within two percentage points of Murphy, and he managed to flip three South Jersey counties Murphy won in 2017, according to Bloomberg: Atlantic, Cumberland, and Gloucester. 

He also managed to get more than 140,000 votes in Ocean County, nearly 40,000 more than former Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, the Republican nominee for governor in 2017. 

The New Jersey GOP said it may be a harbinger of things to come. 

“New Jerseyans stood up and said ‘no’ to being the guinea pigs for Phil Murphy and the Democrat majority’s progressive experiments,” said Alex Wilkins, communications director for the New Jersey GOP. “Vulnerable Congressional Democrats like Tom Malinowski, Andy Kim, Josh Gottheimer, and Mikie Sherrill should be extremely nervous.”

At a GOP happy hour Thursday evening, hosted at Italian Affair Restaurant in Glassboro, voters and local and statewide candidates in Gloucester County celebrated what seemed, for some, to be a shift in momentum for New Jersey politics. 

The mood was festive. 

“The energy is over the top and it’s not going to stop,” said Barbera Doherty, who was elected to the Board of Education in Franklin Township. “We have just begun.” 

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