By JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI
The Grand Arcade in Asbury Park’s Convention Hall was packed, the balloons were ready to be dropped and a jumbotron showing NJTV’s election results was playing in the corner, all that was needed was the victor in Tuesday’s gubernatorial race.
News outlets were reporting only minutes after the polls closed at 8 p.m. that Phil Murphy, a Monmouth County resident, had beaten incumber Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, but Murphy did not take the stage for another two hours.
As statewide results came in and were reported Guadagno finally appeared on NJTV to concede to Murphy.
That’s when the party really began, with Murphy’s Campaign Manager Brian Gill announcing the victory and following brief remarks said, “Ok now let’s rock on.”
Sen. Cory Booker took the stage to introduce the new Lieutenant Governor Elect Sheila Oliver, who had her own contingent in the audience.
Both Booker and Oliver left no doubt in anyone’s mind that this election victory and the election of Democrat Ralph Northam in Virginia were a vote against Trumpism, trumpeting in a new direction for not only New Jersey but the country as well.
“Tonight New Jersey turns a page. New Jersey is now America’s North Star showing a way out of the darkness and into the light,” Booker said.
He said New Jerseyans will stand together to fight fear and hatred and declared the victories in New Jersey and Virginia were a movement against Trump.
Murphy’s wife Tammy also addressed the crowd and introduced her children before making brief remarks and introducing her husband, who surprised the room by not walking on to the stage from the side but coming from the back with body guards and walking straight through the crowd as people rushed to snap photos and selfies.
Murphy also literally leaped for joy once on stage before taking to the podium.
“The days of division are over,” he said, before assuring all New Jerseyans, “I have your back.”
Murphy thanked all who helped in his campaign including his family.
He also took shots at both Trump and outgoing governor, Chris Christie.
“We have been failed by leadership…New Jersey’s best days are before us,” he said.
Murphy then laid out all the people who will benefit from his leadership including senior citizens, LGBTQ community, small business, gun law advocates, environmental advocates and Planned Parenthood.
Murphy also said the economy in the 21st century is headed in a new direction that starts from the bottom up, to the middle out and with those at the top doing their fair share.
Murphy said he was humbled to be elected and for the opportunity to serve as the next governor.
“New Jersey is coming back, starting now, starting here,” he said to loud applause.