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New Jersey state Senate president loses in upset to truck driver

 

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New Jersey’s longtime state Senate president Steve Sweeney, the second-most powerful lawmaker in the state, was defeated in a stunning upset by a political newcomer.

The Associated Press called the race for Republican Edward Durr on Thursday morning, with Durr holding a lead of more than 2,000 votes. Durr, a truck driver, spent just $2,300 on his race, according to the latest campaign finance filings. Sweeney has been president of the New Jersey Senate since 2010, which NJ.com reports is the longest tenure of anyone in the job.

Sweeney’s shocking defeat came amid strong Republican turnout in New Jersey that led to GOP gains across the state. The strong Republican showing statewide in Tuesday’s election nearly caused Democratic Governor Phil Murphy to lose his bid for a second term.

“It didn’t happen because of me,” Durr told reporters on Thursday. “I’m nobody. I’m absolutely nobody. I’m just a simple guy. It was the people. It was a repudiation of the policies that have been forced down their throats.”

Sweeney’s blue collar district encompasses counties that have been won by Democrats and Republicans in the past two presidential elections, but Sweeney has easily held on to his seat since 2002. In 2017, the New Jersey Education Association spent millions of dollars to try to defeat Sweeney, but he easily defeated that challenge.

Sweeney said in a statement that he was waiting for more results to come in before conceding defeat, according to the Associated Press.

“While I am currently trailing in the race, we want to make sure every vote is counted. Our voters deserve that, and we will wait for the final results,” Sweeney said.

While Sweeney is a Democrat, he and Murphy often clashed before the COVID-19 pandemic over some of Murphy’s more liberal goals. Some New Jersey progressives have cheered Sweeney’s defeat in hopes it will make it easier to pass a liberal agenda, despite Republican gains in the legislature.

Shortly after the Associated Press called the race for Durr, some of his old social media posts began circulating. The posts included disparaging comments about Islam and the prophet Muhammad and a claim that “January 6th was not an insurrection at the Capitol.”

Durr has not responded to a request for comment about the posts.



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