Republican Edward Durr, a truck driver for the furniture store Raymour & Flanigan, is poised to topple the second most powerful official in New Jersey government.
Durr on Wednesday held a roughly 2,000-vote advantage over Democratic Senate President Stephen Sweeney, an officer in the Ironworkers union who’s led the upper house for 12 years, NJ.com reported.
Sweeney, the longest-tenured state Senate president in New Jersey history, having held the post since 2010, was expected to serve a seventh term before launching a possible bid for governor in 2025, the news outlet reported.
“I joked with people and I said, ‘I’m going to shock the world, I’m going to beat this man,’” Durr told NJ.com. “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.”
Durr, 58, a lifelong New Jersey resident with three children and six grandchildren, announced his intentions to challenge Sweeney earlier this year to little fanfare.
But on the campaign trail, Durr said Republican Jack Ciattarelli, who is in his own fight for the governorship with incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, told reporters Durr was the right man to challenge Sweeney because he is “fearless,” NJ.com reported.
“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. “But his power, his clout, did not scare me.”
He built his bare-bones campaign at the grassroots level, walking door-to-door throughout the district, wearing jeans and tennis shoes and introducing himself to voters, the news outlet reported.
“The Senate president has spent 20 years in Trenton,” Durr said in a campaign video. “Higher taxes, increasing debt and the rising cost of living. We deserve better. New Jersey, it’s time for a change.”
Tuesday night, Durr watched the election results roll in from his living room in Swedesboro, surrounded by his family.
“We kept saying: ‘What if? What if? What if?’” Durr told the news outlet. “It got a little more real each hour.”
“I was shocked by the numbers they sent me,” he added.
Durr said Sweeney “could have done well for people, but he chose to worry about other things.”
“He did not 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.’”
Durr said he intends to bring a new flavor to the post.
“I’m just a simple man,” Durr said. “Literally just like the song.”
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