Sadly, it appears that New Jerseyans are stuck with Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy for a few more years.
But though that’s not the result Republicans in the state were hoping for, they can take pride in the number of seats it looks like they’ve won (pending mail-in vote numbers) in state legislative contests – eight in the state house and possibly three in the state senate.
One of those senate victories comes courtesy of Republican Edward Durr in what prior to Election Day seemed like impossible odds: A blue-collar truck driver who spent only $153 – most of it on Dunkin’ Donuts and campaign fliers – on his bid to defeat longtime New Jersey state senate leader Steve Sweeney, a Democrat. Sweeney has been a powerful voice in the state senate since his election in 2004, becoming its president in 2010.
If the current results hold – Durr is a little over 2,000 votes ahead as of this writing with mail-in ballots yet to be counted – the New Jersey truck driver who has the most basic of campaign websites and whose main (sole?) campaign ad was filmed using a smartphone and showed his 18-wheeler and Harley motorcycle – stands poised to upend politics in the state of New Jersey with a story that is about as “‘Merica!” as it gets.
Fortunately for all of us still basking in the glow of the Virginia red wave, Durr’s story just keeps getting better. NJ.com did a profile on Durr in which he dropped some more simple pearls of wisdom regarding his campaign to defeat Sweeney, including this mic drop of a quote comparing his race and the state to that of a 1964 Mustang that needs “a little TLC”:
Durr compared his quest in challenging Sweeney to restoring a rusted, broken down 1964 Mustang that’s sitting on bald tires in his front yard. Like the car, New Jersey had good bones and a strong foundation.
“What it requires now is someone to show it a little TLC,” Durr said.
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) November 4, 2021
I love it!!
Durr, who is a father to three and grandfather to six, also told NJ.com that Sweeney’s power did not scare him.
“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 the news outlet, adding that Sweeney’s high position in state government “did not scare me.”
He also told them that he joked with friends about defeating Sweeney but knew the odds were long.
“…what chance did a person like me really stand against this man?” he wondered, according to NJ.com. “He’s literally the second-most powerful person in the state of New Jersey.”
Perhaps not for much longer – thanks to the improbable political campaign of one Edward Durr, who knocked on doors and ran the type of (apparently) successful grassroots operation (in between his grueling truck routes) that maybe seasoned political veterans like Sweeney are now wishing they had.
“Unlike Joe Biden, [Durr] admits he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. He doesn’t pretend to know everything or be everything. But he does want to be a voice for the people so they know someone is actually listening. How honest and refreshing is this?,” my colleague Nick Arama wrote about Durr’s story.
The answer? About as refreshing as it gets.
Update: The Associated Press has just called the race for Durr:
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Top NJ lawmaker Steve Sweeney defeated by GOP newcomer Edward Durr, who spent just $153 on his campaign.
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) November 4, 2021