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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy won his re-election bid Wednesday, defeating Republican challenger and former state legislator Jack Ciattarelli in a razor-thin race that sent shockwaves through the Democratic Party, according to AP.

Why it matters: While Murphy inched out a win in a state President Biden won by almost 16 points in 2020, the close race sends a warning to Democrats ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

What happened: The New Jersey race garnered little national attention until Murphy's significant initial polling lead began to wane in recent weeks, dropping to a six-point lead among likely voters in a late-October poll by Emerson College and PIX 11.

  • The two candidates were largely neck and neck as results rolled in Tuesday, with the race still too close to call by early Wednesday. AP called the race Wednesday night.
  • Worth noting: The election was the first time New Jersey held early in-person voting.

The big picture: The nail-biting win for Murphy comes after a largely disappointing night for Democrats, with Republican Glenn Youngkin defeating Democrat Terry McAuliffe in a huge upset in Virginia's governor's race.

  • "From Virginia to New Jersey to Minnesota, voters in Tuesday's off-year elections sent Democrats a warning for 2022: There could be a massive backlash to perceptions that progressives are pulling the party too far left," Axios Margaret Talev reports.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

A critical race theory founder says he's being inundated with threats

Richard Delgado. Photo: Courtesy of Richard Delgado

Richard Delgado, one of the founders of the critical race theory movement, tells Axios he and his wife have been receiving a steady stream of threatening messages since the coordinated, conservative campaign against critical race theory began.

Why it matters: Educators across the country — even some elementary school teachers — have faced harassment and threats over the past year over lesson plans that teach about systemic racism in the U.S.

Scoop: Nashville Dems ponder partisan school board races

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

In a move that could end the era of nonpartisan education politics, the Davidson County Democratic Party will soon vote on whether to hold primary elections in Nashville school board races.

  • During a special session last month, the state legislature passed a law allowing county political parties to vote on making school board elections partisan.
  • In an email chain obtained by Axios Nashville, the state Democratic Party urged county officials to embrace the new law and vote in favor of partisan elections if their Republican counterparts do the same.

McConnell: No legislative agenda for 2022 midterms

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Mitch McConnell has told colleagues and donors Senate Republicans won't release a legislative agenda before next year's midterms, according to people who've attended private meetings with the minority leader.

Why it matters: Every midterm cycle, there are Republican donors and operatives who argue the party should release a positive, pro-active governing outline around which candidates can rally. McConnell adamantly rejects this idea, preferring to skewer Democrats for their perceived failures.

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