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N.J. Governor's Race: Murphy Trying To Become First Democrat To Win Second Term Since 1977

OLD BRIDGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Early in-person voting in New Jersey wrapped up Sunday and the race for governor is down to its final hours.

CBS2's Alice Gainer has more on how the candidates spent Monday.

Gov. Phil Murphy appeared on CNN in the morning and was asked about the role the current president and former president are playing in this election.

"He spoke at a 'Stop the Steal' rally," Murphy said. "I'm running against the guy who has got a very extreme right wing set of policies and practices, which is very inconsistent, by the way, with the history of New Jersey, including of the Republican Party."

READ MORECandidate Conversations: Phil Murphy

At a campaign stop at an Old Bridge pizzeria, former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli returned fire.

"That's coming from the most extreme governor we've ever had. This guy is to the left of Jim Florio, Jim McGreevey and Jon Corzine combined and they were all one-timers," the Republican challenger said.

On Monday night, Ciattarelli returned to Raritan, where he grew up, and had a crowd of hundreds rooting him on, CBS2's Jessica Layton reported.

"Are you ready to beat Phil Murphy? I've been ready for four years," Ciattarelli said.

Speaking at a park on Canal Street, he stayed on theme with his slogan, "Let's fix New Jersey."

"We will no longer be the state with the highest property taxes in the nation," he said, adding, "Under Gov. Ciattarelli, we are not gonna be the worst place in the country to do business."

Meanwhile, Murphy made an evening campaign stop in South Orange.

"We have turned the page into a new era in New Jersey and we're not going back," he said.

He touted his accomplishments over the last four years.

"Tax fairness for hundreds of thousands of middle class families, a minimum wage going to $15 an hour for millions of workers in this state, health care that's more affordable for more people," Murphy said.

A Democrat has not won re-election in the state since 1977, but recent polls have the incumbent leading his challenger.

A new Rutgers-Eagleton poll out Monday shows 50% of registered voters will or have cast their ballot for Murphy, versus 42% for Ciattarelli.

It also found that the race has become more about the national parties and politicians, rather than on New Jersey-centric issues and actual support of either candidate or their positions.

READ MORECandidate Conversations: Jack Ciattarelli

"I'm focused like more on the party," one voter said.

"I know what I've got to do already, so you know I'm going with what I have to go with," another person said.

"I think that people are focusing on their emotions, rather than the policies that each one stands for and that's going to be, moving forward I think, unfortunately, how people are going to vote," added Micheline Picciano of Old Bridge.

Regardless of who you are voting for and why, we are now just hours away from Election Day, and for the first time New Jersey had early in-person voting.

"As of yesterday, 495,336 voters have cast vote-by-mail ballots and 207,863 cast ballots at 139 early voting locations across nine days," New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way said.

Polls are open in New Jersey on Tuesday from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m.

All 120 seats in the Assembly and Senate are also on the ballot.

CBS2's Jessica Layton contributed to this report.

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