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Jack Ciattarelli

The GOP gubernatorial candidate in New Jersey has refused to officially concede the race to Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, who was declared the winner one day earlier.

The Republican candidate, Jack Ciattarelli, is currently losing to Murphy by 2.3 points — or more than 56,500 votes.

Nonetheless, Ciattarelli accused the media of being "irresponsible" for calling the race for Murphy in a video posted to Twitter on Thursday evening. He added that Murphy's declaration of victory was "premature," and said that "every legal vote" must be counted.

Ciattarelli added that he would respect the outcome of the race.

"I promise you, whatever the outcome, the election result will be legal and fair," Ciattarelli said in the video. "You have my word."

The Associated Press called the race for Murphy on Wednesday night. Election experts have said the outstanding votes are likely to be overwhelmingly Democratic, and that there are not enough ballots for Ciattarelli to overcome his current deficit in the race.

"The Associated Press declared Murphy the winner Wednesday evening after a new batch of votes from Republican-leaning Monmouth County increased Murphy's lead and closed the door to a Ciattarelli comeback," the news outlet wrote in an explainer about why it called the race.

Murphy's margin of victory is nearly identical to that of Republican Glenn Youngkin, who defeated former Gov. Terry McAuliffe in Virginia's gubernatorial election on Tuesday. Youngkin is currently has a 2.5 point margin of victory over McAuliffe — roughly 79,000 votes.

Democrats have remained committed to honoring election results when they lose. McAuliffe officially conceded the race to Youngkin on Wednesday, and incumbent Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam invited Youngkin to the governor's mansion to signal a peaceful transition of power.

This isn't the first time Ciattarelli has flirted with Republicans' conspiracy theories about voter fraud. Last November, Ciattarelli attended a "Stop the Steal" rally at Donald Trump's golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. He claimed he didn't know the purpose of the rally was to protest Biden's election.

"If he had told me it was a 'Stop the Steal' rally, I would not have attended. I don't think those were good for the nation," Ciattarelli said in March. "Joe Biden's our legitimate president."

Notably, Trump did not endorse Ciattarelli in the governor's race.

Republicans have been spreading baseless conspiracy theories about the New Jersey election.

On Thursday, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted a heavily edited video from Project Veritas, a right-wing group with a history of coordinating misleading disinformation campaigns to benefit conservatives. The video claimed to show a New Jersey poll worker allowing a noncitizen to fill out a provisional ballot — while noting the person's vote may not be counted.

"Nothing to see here folks, just a blatant crime being committed!" Trump Jr. tweeted on Thursday, adding the hashtag, "#ExposeNJ."

Others claimed without evidence that elections officials added "magic votes" for Democrats hours after the polls closed. In reality, these late ballots were mainly mail-in ballots from heavily Democratic areas of the state.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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