Tight New Jersey races uncalled after polls close

TRENTON, New Jersey -- New Jersey voters cast ballots Tuesday to decide how big an advantage Democrats will have in the state's General Assembly in the first legislative contest since Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy took office in 2018.

Polls closed at 8 p.m., with all 80 seats in the Assembly on the ballot.

In closely watched races, results were either too close to call or didn't have enough votes in for a call to be made.

On the only statewide ballot question, voters said yes to a statewide ballot question on whether veterans living in retirement communities should get a $250 property tax deduction.

Democrats went into the election with a 54-to-26 advantage in the Assembly.

One of the top races has been Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick's fight to keep his seat in the 21st District, which is becoming more Democratic.

Bramnick and his running mate, Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz spoke earlier Tuesday night in Westfield, and reflected confidence they would win.

Bramnick touted himself as a "moderate" and declared victory, though The Associated Press has not called the race.

A single state Senate race was on the ballot in southern New Jersey.

Voters in the 1st District are electing a permanent successor to U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who quit when he was elected to Congress. Democrat Bob Andrzejczak, who was appointed to hold the post until the election, faced off against Republican Mike Testa to fill the remainder of Van Drew's four-year term.

Murphy, who isn't on the ballot, voted early Tuesday near his home in Red Bank.

He spoke at several events Tuesday night and said he was feeling confident the party would win in some tight races.

Voters pick two assembly members in every district. Democrats and Republicans generally run as pairs on a party ticket.

Among the races that were called on Tuesday, it was a good night for incumbents. Democratic Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin was reelected, as was Majority Leader Lou Greenwald.

The race came as Murphy navigates a sometimes friendly and sometimes reluctant Democrat-led Legislature. The first-term former Wall Street executive has campaigned and governed as an unabashed liberal, pushing a $15 minimum wage and opposing Republican President Donald Trump's immigration policies.

Trump himself and the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry also overlapped with the race. But Republicans downplayed the president.

Republican incumbent Ryan Peters, who was in a close race in the Burlington County-based 8th District said he didn't think the president was a factor.

He and his running mate Jean Stanfield said most voters said they worried about taxes and school funding.

In a closely watched local issue, Jersey City voters approved restrictions on Airbnb and other short-term rental companies.

The vote was an endorsement of restrictions initially passed by Jersey City lawmakers in June, but that were put on hold after short-term rental advocates gathered enough signatures to force a referendum.

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