Republican Jack Ciattarelli conceded in the closer-than-expected New Jersey governor's race on Friday, 10 days after his loss to the Democratic incumbent, Phil Murphy.
"I called Gov. Murphy earlier today and congratulated him on his re-election and wished him well in serving the people of New Jersey," Ciattarelli told supporters at a news conference.
He defended the delay in conceding, and said he decided to call it quits only after it became clear there was no path to victory.
"I hate to lose," Ciattarelli said, "but I'm also someone who believes strongly in our republic and our democratic processes."
Murphy said in a statement that he'd thanked Ciattarelli and his family "for a spirited campaign and their commitment to public service" in their phone call.
Ciattarelli, a former state assemblyman, had campaigned on lowering property taxes and relaxing Covid-19 restrictions, and said he plans to run again in four years.
"Fact is, we almost did win," he said.
Murphy won the state, which Joe Biden carried by almost 16 points in 2020, with a less than 3-point margin over Ciattarelli.
Murphy's campaign had been calling on Ciattarelli to concede for days.
“The race is over,” Murphy's campaign manager Mollie Binotto said in a statement earlier this week. “Assemblyman Ciattarelli is mathematically eliminated, and he must accept the results and concede the race. His continuing failure to do so is an assault on the integrity of our elections.”
Ciattarelli's campaign had said the delay was to ensure that all the votes that were cast were counted, and stressed that it was not claiming there had been any voter fraud.
“Let me be clear, no one on this team is alleging fraud or malfeasance, as we have not seen any credible evidence of that," Ciattarelli's legal counsel Mark Sheridan said in a statement last week.
Ciattarelli echoed that sentiment Friday, saying, "I see no proof this election was stolen."
Murphy, the first Democratic governor to win re-election in the state in more than 40 years, said in his statement that, “This election was not simply a choice of candidates, but of direction, and the people of New Jersey have chosen to keep moving forward."
“Over the next four years, we will govern as we have since day one – committed to building a stronger and fairer New Jersey from the middle out and the bottom up," Murphy said.
Other Democrats in the state were not as fortunate as the governor. Longtime state Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat, unexpectedly lost his race against Republican Edward Durr, a furniture company truck driver and political newcomer who'd spent $153 on his campaign.