TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – New Jersey voters have chosen Democrat Phil Murphy to succeed outgoing Gov. Chris Christie.
Murphy faced off with Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno in the race to replace the incumbent.
In his victory speech, Murphy said he was “extremely humbled, yet grateful and proud.”
“The days of division are over,” he said “We will move forward together.”
The 60-year-old former Goldman Sachs executive served as President Barak Obama’s ambassador to Germany but has never held public office. He campaigned on a promise to increase funding for public schools and pensions by raising taxes on the wealthy and legalizing and taxing marijuana.
“It won’t be easy and it certainly won’t be overnight, but let there be no doubt: Starting here, starting now, starting with us, New Jersey is coming back!” he said.
Murphy criticized the current administration.
“I chose to run for governor on a belief that New Jersey’s best days are before us. That our future is unlimited. And that we have been failed by leadership, which forgot what it meant to dream big,” he said. “We will rebuild our state from the bottom up and the middle out, and we’ll ask those at the very top to do their fair share. That means a higher minimum wage, equal pay for equal work.”
He also said his victory sends a message to the nation: ‘We are better than this.’
“With Donald Trump in the White House, Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, polluters running the EPA, zealots heading the Department of Education, and Steve Bannon holding Republicans in Congress hostage, governors will have never mattered more,” he said.
In her concession speech, Guadagno congratulated Murphy and called it a “great race.”
“We left no stone unturned and we would not have done it any differently,” she said.
She added that while she may have lost the battle, the war has just begun.
“Never forget what we were fighting for here. We were fighting for our families, and we will continue that fight for lower taxes and a safer New Jersey,” she said. “This is not the end. This is the beginning of a good fight. We will keep up that fight.”
Throughout her campaign, Guadagno stood against any tax increase and focused almost entirely on her promise to lower property taxes. Her key platform was a so-called “circuit breaker plan,” giving property tax relief to middle class homeowners.
Christie said he voted for his lieutenant governor, adding the election was not about him.
“If Kim wins, it’s not an affirmation of my eight years. And if Phil Murphy wins, it’s not a rejection of my eight years,” he said.
Guadagno served as Christie’s lieutenant governor for eight years. She tried distancing herself from him in the race, but some think his low approval rating and the ‘Bridgegate’ scandal haunted her campaign, CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported.
Murphy will replace Christie in January. He said planning for the future starts Tuesday night.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)