Sweeney still won’t concede, says results will be known Tuesday

By: - November 8, 2021 2:49 pm

New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney speaks to a colleague prior to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivering his budget address for fiscal year 2016 to the Legislature, February 24, 2015 at the Statehouse in Trenton, New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Senate President Steve Sweeney on Monday again refused to concede his apparent re-election loss, saying there are too many votes uncounted in his district.

“They’re counting the votes as we speak, right now, so I’m not going to make any call on it before they’re all counted,” he told the New Jersey Monitor. “One way or another, we’ll know tomorrow.”

Sweeney (D-Gloucester) fell victim to Republican challenger Ed Durr last week, according to the Associated Press, a result that rattled Democrats statewide and upended Trenton’s power structure.

Sweeney, in office since 2002 and the Senate’s president since 2010, said he plans to hold a press conference Tuesday to discuss the results of his race. The Associated Press has Durr topping Sweeney by 2,032 votes, or 3 percentage points.

The “worst it’s going to be is 2,000 votes,” Sweeney said.

When asked if he would request a recount, Sweeney said he’ll wait to see the final numbers.

“Could there be a large number of votes? Could there be no votes? The point is, let us just count the votes. I earned that,” he said.

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Jack Ciattarelli has similarly declined to concede in his race, saying there are too many uncounted votes remaining (mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day can be counted if they are received today). Gov. Phil Murphy’s campaign Monday called on Ciattarelli to admit his loss, saying it is mathematically impossible for him to win. Murphy leads by about 65,000 votes, according to the A.P.

During a press briefing Monday, Murphy called Ciattarelli’s refusal to concede “dangerous” but the governor went softer on Sweeney.

“I actually don’t know the math on Steve’s race, but at least I have the impression there’s a shot. There is no shot in our race, and I think that’s the difference,” Murphy said.

Seen in the Senate chambers Monday, Ciattarelli did not speak to reporters.

In a statement after Election Day, Sweeney pointed to 12,000 votes “recently found in one county.” He clarified to reporters Monday that they weren’t found, but rather “came in” to Camden County. Sweeney’s 3rd District includes towns in Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem counties.

Sweeney’s Democratic colleagues appear to have moved on, with the Statehouse buzzing Monday over who Sweeney’s replacement as Senate president will be. Sen. Nicolas Scutari (D-Middlesex) appears likely to succeed, although other big players have thrown their names into the ring, including two women out of Essex: Sens. Nia Gill and Teresa Ruiz.

Ruiz, who is also a contender to succeed state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) as majority leader, said it would be “great news for women and the Latino community” for her to lead the chamber.

State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen), chair of the chamber’s budget committee and one of the four members to enter the race for the presidency last week, put his support behind Scutari, though that support was conditioned on Sweeney’s looming loss.

“The Bergen delegation is supporting Scutari for Senate president when the caucus convenes after Sweeney has exhausted all of the legal options made available to him,” he said.

Sarlo will be the most senior member Bergen County senator following the retirement of Weinberg, who is retiring and did not seek re-election this year.

New Jersey’s elections won’t be certified until Nov. 15. Under New Jersey law, candidates have 17 days to apply for a recount.

Nikita Biryukov contributed to this report. 

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Sophie Nieto-Munoz
Sophie Nieto-Munoz

Sophie Nieto-Muñoz, a New Jersey native and former Trenton statehouse reporter for NJ.com, shined a spotlight on the state’s crumbling unemployment system and won several awards for investigative reporting from the New Jersey Press Association. She was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists for her report on PetSmart's grooming practices, which was also recognized by the New York Press Club. Sophie speaks Spanish and is proud to connect to the Latinx community through her reporting.

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