(CNSNews.com) - A favorite of conservatives, Republican Bret Schundler Tuesday failed to attract enough middle-of-the-road voters and went down to a resounding defeat in the New Jersey gubernatorial race.
With most of the vote counted, the former mayor of Jersey City trailed Democrat Jim McGreevey, 57 to 41 percent. McGreevey is the current mayor of Woodbridge.
In conceding the race, Schundler issued a challenge to McGreevey.
"I challenge him not to raise state taxes. He told me he is committed not to raise taxes. We will hold him to that."
Virginia Littell, a former New Jersey Republican Party chairwoman, implied that Schundler's conservative views, including his pro-life stance, dictated the results.
"I think we have to speak more clearly to our voters. We have to show we have the right issues, not what divides us but what brings us together."
Rick Santorelli, a Republican voter from Mercer County, said Schundler's defeat was "a shame." He added that Democrats "had more money" and "distorted Bret's message."
Schundler's conservative credentials alienated many members of the state GOP establishment, including Acting Governor Donald DiFrancesco, who refused to even endorse the Republican candidate.
"I blame DiFrancesco," Santorelli said. "He didn't stand with Bret. Our president stood with Bret. Giuliani stood with Bret. Our own governor didn't lift a finger to help Bret.
"They say we Republicans have no party unity. Bret tried to unite Republicans. It's a damn shame our own governor didn't feel the same way. It's a disgrace."