RARITAN – Republican gubernatorial nominee Jack Ciattarelli conceded his closer-than-expected election loss to Gov. Phil Murphy Friday – and announced he intends to make another run for the seat in 2025.

“That is exactly my plan. I’ll be running for governor in four years,” Ciattarelli said, to loud applause from supporters gathered in the council chambers at Raritan Borough Hall, where he got his start in politics.

“I want the governor to be successful in addressing issues that are most important to New Jerseyans,” he said. “But I just have this feeling that there’s going to be a lot of fixing to do come four years from now.”

Ciattarelli said four years ago that he’d run in 2021 though didn’t formally launch his candidacy until January 2020. He came closer to defeating Murphy than most observers and polls anticipated, ultimately falling short by around 3 percentage points.

The election was 10 days ago, but Ciattarelli said the “excruciating slow” pace of counting first vote-by-mail ballots and then provisional ballots made it prudent to wait before conceding. He said Thursday evening was the first time his campaign’s attorney, Mark Sheridan, said there wasn’t a path to victory.

And so Ciattarelli called Murphy this morning to concede and exchange well-wishes, then held a formal announcement in the early afternoon. He said he knows some people will be disappointed but that he wouldn’t bow out if he thought he could still win.

“I’ve worked every day and night for 22 months to become New Jersey’s governor. If you think I’d be standing here today conceding if I thought I won this election, you couldn’t be more wrong. I hate to lose,” Ciattarelli said.

“But I’m also someone who believes strongly in our republic and our democratic processes,” he said. “Enough votes have been counted. There does not appear to be a path to victory or the basis for a recount. Nor do we know of any systemic or widespread fraud. So, no, I see no proof this election was stolen.”

Ciattarelli said Republicans have to do a better job getting people to vote by mail. And he said state lawmakers and county clerks and election boards need to get together to standardize the reporting of election results to bring order and renewed faith in the system.

“Sadly, in our current climate, that slow count and constantly changing online numbers gives rise to doubt in the system, unfounded conspiracy theories,” Ciattarelli said. “That isn’t helping. The fact that we are 10 days past election and votes are still being counted is a problem for every close election to come. Voters do deserve better.”

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Media Matters for America blamed Facebook and other social-media companies for allowing misinformation about the New Jersey election to be shared on their platforms. It cites claims related to Bergen, Essex, Gloucester and Monmouth counties that are being distorted or have explanations.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com.

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