Phil Murphy was elected as New Jersey’s next governor Tuesday, giving the state a chief executive promising to enact a progressive agenda.

An initial projection based on exit polling by CNN was announced at 8:02 p.m. As of 8:10 p.m., few results from election officials were available. But the win — called as well by the Associated Press about 20 minutes later, and several other networks in the interim — hands Democrats full control of state government.

Many at Murphy's own campaign party were unaware he'd been declared the winner by major media as the first stories made their way to the airwaves and online.

Final polls heading into Election Day gave Murphy a lead of 12 to 15 points. Murphy acknowledged the apparent win in a tweet later in the hour.

This post will be updated continually as results come in.

The New Jersey Democratic State Committee said it went to court in several counties asking for the vote to be extended, citing the weather, but was denied. Several legislative races were also in play Tuesday night.

Murphy, 60, is a former Goldman Sachs executive and ambassador to Germany who has never held elective office, though as a former finance chairman for the Democratic National Committee from 2006 to 2009 isn’t new to politics.

Murphy defeated Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who served two terms under Gov. Chris Christie as New Jersey’s first lieutenant governor since the post was created by a 2005 constitutional amendment. Murphy’s lieutenant governor will be Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, the first black woman to serve as a legislative leader in New Jersey when she was Assembly speaker for the first four years of Christie’s term.

Murphy’s election continues a number of long-term trends in New Jersey politics. Not since 1965 has one party won more than two consecutive gubernatorial elections. And not since 1985 has New Jersey elected a governor from the same party as the incumbent president.

Murphy will now be aiming to break another long-term trend: Not since Brendan Byrne in 1977 has a Democrat been elected to a second term as governor.

Murphy has said he wants to raise income taxes on the wealthy, multi-state corporations and hedge fund managers, plus legalize and tax marijuana, estimating the combined value of the tax hikes at $1.3 billion annually. He pledged to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, guarantee sick leave to workers statewide, fully fund the school-aid formula, expand gun control and create a public bank from which the state would loan tax collections to students, small businesses and towns.

Murphy is a native of Massachusetts who lives in a $10 million waterfront home in Middletown. He will become the first Monmouth County resident to be governor in more than 140 years – since Joel Parker served nonconsecutive terms in the 1860s and 1870s.

The inauguration will be in 10 weeks, on Jan. 16.

Throughout election season, Murphy relentlessly linked Guadagno to Christie, whose approval ratings are abysmal, even shooting one television ad with the George Washington Bridge as a backdrop, a reference to a 2013 political payback scandal that deliberately caused traffic jams and resulted in three convictions against Christie's former appointees and aides.

His victory in New Jersey came as Virginia also picked a new governor, Democrat Ralph Northam. The results marked the first statewide Democratic wins during President Donald Trump's administration after Democrats failed to win special congressional races earlier this year.

Murphy campaigned in part by promising to stand up to Trump, a Republican who lost New Jersey to Democrat Hillary Clinton last year, but he also focused on Christie.

John Holpp, 88, of Hamilton, said he voted because he was "hoping to get rid of Christie."

"If I could get rid of Trump I would be even happier," said Holpp, who's unaffiliated. "I've never seen our state so miserable, and I've never seen our country so miserable."

Kim Sica, a Republican from Hamilton who voted for Christie and Guadagno in 2009 and 2013, said she doesn't like what she's seen from the governor in his second term and didn't want to support his "right hand." She voted for Murphy.

"I'm a little nervous with that because I haven't trusted the Democrats in a long time," said Sica, who voted for Trump and proudly calls herself a Trumpster.

Guadagno's campaign focused almost entirely on her promise to lower property taxes, but recently she steered into a discussion on immigration policy by calling for a ban on sanctuary cities.

And those promises — as well as distaste for Murphy's agenda, including the promised tax hikes — resonated with many voters:

— With additional reporting by the Associated Press

UNOFFICIAL ELECTION RESULTS

Phil Murphy — 1,113,353
Kim Guadagno — 851,696
Gina Genovese — 11,261
Seth Kaper-Dale — 9,233
Peter Rohrman — 9,739
Vincent Ross — 4,574
Matthew Riccardi — 6,434


New Jersey: Decoded cuts through the cruft and gets to what matters in New Jersey news and politics. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.


Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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