New Jersey State Senate President Stephen Sweeney officially lost re-election on Thursday to newcomer Edward Durr, a Republican truck driver, who spent only a couple thousand dollars on his campaign.
Politico, which referred to Sweeney as “New Jersey’s most powerful lawmaker,” said that Durr’s upset win dealt a “severe blow to Democrats” as Sweeney was “their most effective political machine.”
Durr defeated Sweeney after “spending $2,300, according to an Election Law Enforcement Commission document filed online on Thursday,” The Associated Press reported. Politico noted that just four years ago, “the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, spent about $5.4 million on a 2017 effort to unseat Sweeney, yet he still won by 18 points.”
Montclair State University political science professor Brigid Harrison said that Durr’s upset victory was, in part, an indicator that even blue states are rejecting Democrat President Joe Biden and his far-left agenda. Republican and blue collar districts turned out heavily to vote for Republicans during Tuesday’s election.
“This was a protest vote against the Biden administration and Murphy,” Harrison said. “Steve was in many ways just how people voiced their dissatisfaction and anger with the larger political structure.”
Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg responded to the upset by saying in an interview, “It is stunning and shocking and I cannot figure it out.”
It wasn’t just Sweeney. Durr’s Assembly running mates, Bethanne McCarthy Patrick and Beth Sawyer, appeared on track to defeat incumbents John Burzichelli and Adam Taliaferro (both D-Gloucester). Democrats will see their majorities shrink in both chambers of the state Legislature. And Murphy, despite claiming victory, appears to have significantly underperformed his own campaign’s expectations. …
That outcome could be indicative of a significant shift in New Jersey’s electoral landscape. Durr said Murphy’s coronavirus executive orders, vaccine and school mask mandates, unemployment benefits snafus and a general distrust of South Jersey’s Democratic machine all contributed to his strong performance.
New Jersey Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli came within just a couple of points of knocking off the state’s incumbent Democrat governor, Phil Murphy, in a state that Biden won by nearly 16 points just last year.
Durr, who previously ran for office a couple of years ago, said that he was motivated to run against Sweeney this year after he was denied a concealed carry permit.
“I was told flat-out by the local sheriff, ‘Don’t even bother.’ And that kind of angered me,” said Durr. “I’ve never been arrested and I couldn’t get a concealed carry? … That really angered me, so I looked into what can you do to get into politics.”
Democrats also suffered catastrophic losses in Virginia on Tuesday night as the state’s governorship, attorney general, and lieutenant governorship all flipped from Democrat to Republican. Republicans also ended Democrats’ control of the House of Delegates in the state, winning at a minimum enough seats for a tie, with other reports projecting that Republicans had up to a 2-seat majority.