New Jersey is experiencing an incredible election story: in the race for the State Senate District 3 seat, the Republican candidate, Edward Durr, defeated the experienced and powerful Senate President, Democrat Stephen Sweeney, by more than 2,000 votes.
Durr’s victory has ingredients of epic, as the Republican is just an ordinary American who worked for 25 years as a truck driver and ventured to challenge the second most powerful politician in his state in an election race.
According to an AP report, the Durr campaign spent only $2,300. The amount causes confusion because, when Durr’s win had not yet been made official, several local and national media had reported that Durr’s campaign raised $10,000 by spending only $153. Of that, about $67 was spent on Dunkin’ Donuts.
The Edward Durr clip that went viral
Hardly anyone knew Edward Durr, but on the afternoon of Nov. 3, a clip from the Republican’s campaign went viral on social media along with his incredible story that caught the attention of the entire national press. In the video, quite homemade by the way, Durr can be seen getting out of his truck, talking about his proposals as a candidate, walking the streets of District 3 and riding a motorcycle at the end of the clip.
“The Senate President has spent 20 years in Trenton,” Durr said in the campaign video. “Higher taxes, increasing debt and the rising cost of living. We deserve better. New Jersey, it’s time for a change.”
While Durr is a sort of political David, Sweeney is a Goliath in the full metaphorical vein. The Democrat is the longest-serving Senate president in New Jersey history, holding the post since 2010. Moreover, it was all set for him to serve a seventh term in office before launching his bid for governor in 2025 (although this was not yet confirmed due to the remoteness of the date).
Local media outlet NJ.com collected some of Durr’s statements, who, surprised, happily welcomed the election results. ““I joked with people and I said, ‘I’m going to shock the world, I’m going to beat this man,’” the truck driver and possible next state senator said. “I was saying it, but really kind of joking. Because what chance did a person like me really stand against this man? He’s literally the second-most powerful person in the state of New Jersey.”
A simple man on the verge of making history
According to NJ.com, Durr is a lifelong resident of New Jersey, has three children and six grandchildren, and his announcement of candidacy came “earlier this year to little fanfare.”
“In fact, a link to his campaign website brings up error codes,” NJ.com reported, “Most people outside of South Jersey had never even heard of him.”
However, New Jersey Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli, who almost managed to snatch the win from Democrat Phil Murphy, said at the time that Durr was the perfect man to run against Sweeney because he is a “fearless” person.
“I don’t know if I truly am fearless or stupid. Because who in their right mind would take on a person with that kind of power and clout?” Durr told NJ.com. “But his power, his clout, did not scare me.”
A perusal of Mr. Durr’s Facebook, his main campaign site, will show that the candidate is a baseball fan, an unequivocal conservative and also an anti-socialist, per some posts where he criticizes leftist ideology.
The Republican dedicated words to his adversary saying that “he could have done well for people, but he chose to worry about other things”.
“He didn’t fight for the people, and that had to end,” Durr said. “I’m a person who believes in the right to the people. I’m a firm constitutionalist believer and I believe in people’s rights. When I saw how people were being mistreated or ignored, that angered me to say: ‘I’m going to make my voice heard.'”
As he told NJ.com, he and his family kept an eye on the results throughout the night, ordering pizza and joking about the good numbers that were coming in, but remained skeptical about the real chances of winning the seat, as the results were too good to be true.
According to NBC results, Durr won with 52% of the vote, garnering 33,022 votes. Sweeney garnered 30,927 votes, for 48%.
The results have set off alarm bells for New Jersey Democrats, who are concerned about Sweeney’s defeat, which comes on top of the surprise defeat of state Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Paulsboro), a strong Sweeney ally.
According to local reports, Sweeney was not on good terms with his party, especially the more progressive wing led by Gov. Phil Murphy, who had some conflicts over the past four years with Sweeney on tax issues and tax credits.
Beyond the explanations that may be given for the electoral results throughout the country, the reality is that the Democrats did not have a good performance. The heavy defeat in Virginia, the close race for governor in New Jersey and historic victory of truck driver Edward Durr are making it very clear that Americans, at least on this occasion, are rejecting the most radical policies and ideas of the Democratic Party, especially those that do not respect individual liberties and the weight that parents have in the upbringing and education of their children.