NJ Senate President Accepts Election Defeat to Truck Driver Edward Durr

By Jonathan Walker | November 11, 2021
Jonathan loves talking politics, economics and philosophy. He carries unique perspectives on everything making him a rather odd mix of liberal-conservative with a streak of independent Austrian thought.
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TRENTON, NJ - FEB. 24: New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney speaks to a colleague. Sweeney lost his recent re-election bid to truck driver, Edward Durr by more than 2,000 votes. (Image: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Democrat Steve Sweeney, the state Senate President of New Jersey, lost his reelection bid to Republican Edward Durr, a truck driver who apparently spent under $10,000.00 on his campaign. Previous reporting claimed Durr spent less than $200.00 on his campaign. Sweeney is one of New Jersey’s most powerful Democrats and his loss has sent shock waves through political circles.

In his speech at the statehouse on Nov. 10, Sweeney admitted defeat and congratulated Durr on the victory. He blamed the loss on a “red wave” that swept through his district. 12,000 more people had voted in this election than in 2017. Durr received 32,742 votes while Sweeney’s tally came in short by more than 2,000 votes at 30,444.

“I, of course, accept the results… What the voters said in this election is New Jersey is a state filled with hardworking people who want to provide for their families and as leaders we need to speak directly to the concerns of all voters… I plan to keep speaking to those concerns,” Sweeney said in his concession speech.

Though he won’t be withdrawing from public life, Sweeney did not say whether he will run for governor in 2025. Sweeney has been president of the chamber for over a decade, since 2010. The Senate now has to find a new president.

58-year-old Durr used a smartphone to shoot his campaign video. He has never held a public office in his life. The only bid he made at a political office was the state assembly race in 2019 that he failed. Durr’s campaign filing showed he spent only $10,000 on his campaign, which is typically far too small for a serious political bid. 

In an interview with Breitbart, Durr believes that the main reason for his shocking win was due to the issue of “rights.” He thinks that the harsh coronavirus policies imposed in New Jersey created a “perfect storm” that enabled him to nab the victory.

“People talk about how New Jersey has the highest taxes, and we’re the worst state for business, with high debt, and so on, but bottom line is rights. It’s family… When somebody’s messing with your family, you’ll do anything… The governor was messing with people’s families. When you mess with somebody’s job, their livelihood, their home, their children — people just won’t take that,” Durr said. 

According to political analysts, Sweeney’s loss could signal a new Republican wave in New Jersey that has usually been a reliable blue state, something that could spell trouble for Democrats ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. The fact that a Republican gubernatorial candidate came close to defeating Democrat governor Phil Murphy as well strengthens the view.

Democratic state Sen. Richard Codey said that “no one on God’s Earth” could have predicted Durr’s win. “Anyone who said they saw this coming is lying. Even Sweeney’s opponent didn’t see this coming,” Democratic strategist Joshua Henne told Fox News.

Meanwhile, some media outlets have taken a dig at Durr, focusing on his job as a truck driver and insisting he doesn’t have the qualifications to perform duties as an elected member. Writing for The Atlantic, author Tom Nichols wrote that politics needs people “who know what they’re doing.” Bizarrely, Nichols equates Durr’s win as one of the dangers of populism like what happened in Turkey’s takeover by Islamist leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“The plucky ordinary fellow taking down the mossy old Trenton pol has been catnip for many of my former comrades on the right, including many I greatly respect. But they seem to be acting on the belief that the local voter is always right and the long-serving politician is always wrong,” Nichols wrote.