New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has won reelection, defeating Republican Jack Ciattarelli in a closer-than-expected race in which the Democrat actually trailed during most of the early vote count.
Murphy led Ciattarelli, 50 percent to 49 percent, when The Associated Press called the race on Wednesday, nearly 24 hours after polls closed.
The New Jersey contest eluded national coverage for most of the year, as both parties focused intensely on the close race for governor in Virginia. But Murphy’s small margin of victory ultimately points to the same challenging political environment for Democrats, a year after winning the presidential election.
A mass shooting Tuesday that killed at least 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school came less than a year after legislators drastically expanded gun rights. Pledging to keep Texas a “bastion of freedom,” Gov. Greg Abbott in June signed seven laws, one of which allows people to legally carry handguns without licenses.“Texas…