Spending $ 2,300, GOP Newcomer Ed Durr Beats Top NJ Lawmaker | national news

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By MIKE CATALINI

TRENTON, NJ (AP) – Longtime New Jersey State Senate Speaker Democrat Steve Sweeney lost his reelection, falling to a Republican newcomer who spent little money and highlighted the plight of Democrats in Biden’s day.

Edward Durr, a furniture company truck driver and first public servant, beat Sweeney in New Jersey’s 3rd Legislative District, according to results Thursday.

Sweeney’s defeat was unexpected and cast the fate of the state government into uncertainty.

“It is amazing and shocking and I cannot understand it,” Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg said in an interview.

His loss took place in a politically competitive suburban Philadelphia district whose counties split their votes between Democrats and Republicans in the 2016 presidential election and again in 2020.

It also coincided with increased GOP participation, even in an off-year election that saw Republicans make gains statewide. Durr’s victory on Thursday brought in around 3% more of the vote than Sweeney in 2017 in unofficial returns.

Sweeney’s attention also focused on tight Senate races elsewhere in the state.

“I don’t really think it was Steve Sweeney,” said new Republican Senate leader Steve Oroho. “I think it had to do with the message coming from people who were just annoyed with all the decrees and warrants and who were fed up with being told what they can and cannot do.”

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The loss says more about the headwinds Democrats face after losing the governor’s race in Virginia and claiming a narrow victory in New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s race against Republican Jack Ciattarelli, experts said.

“It was a protest vote against the Biden and Murphy administration,” said Brigid Harrison, professor of political science at Montclair State University. “Steve was in many ways how people expressed their discontent and anger with the larger political structure.”

Sweeney said in a statement Thursday that he was waiting for more votes before acknowledging the loss.

“While I’m currently lagging behind in the race, we want to make sure every vote is counted. Our voters deserve it and we will wait for the final results, ”he said.

Sweeney has served as Speaker of the Senate since 2010 and was responsible for leading Democratic Governor Phil Murphy progressive agenda across the legislature, including a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour, paid sick leave, and the legalization of recreational marijuana.

He is also known for his high-profile turnaround on opposing same-sex marriage. Sweeney said in 2011 he made the “biggest mistake of my legislative career” by voting against marriage equality.

Although Sweeney is a fellow Democrat, he fought Murphy early in his administration to raise income taxes for the wealthy and worked closely with Republican Chris Christie during his eight-year tenure ending in 2018.

A deal he made with Christie to overhaul the public workers’ pension plan put Sweeney at odds with public sector unions, who would go on to become key Murphy’s supporters.

Sweeney’s loss was applauded by Progressive Democrats in southern New Jersey, who saw him as a product of transactional and machinist politics.

“Today is glorious,” said Sue Altman, director of New Jersey Working Families, in a tweet. Altman has been a longtime critic of Sweeney and saw him as focused on trying to maintain control of the Democratic Party, particularly in southern New Jersey.

His allies say he was open-minded and ultimately delivered for the left.

“I think he was a remarkable Senator and Speaker of the Senate, and as I have often reminded my progressive friends that we could never have got all these bills out of Governor Murphy’s desk for him to signs them without the cooperation of the Senate Speaker, “Weinberg said. .

Sweeney had previously faced electoral opposition. In 2017, his feud with the state’s largest teachers’ union over retirement benefits, among other issues, led to a battle in which the New Jersey Education Association spent millions in an attempt to defeat Sweeney. The union’s effort failed.

But this year, Durr beat him, spending $ 2,300, according to an Election Law Enforcement Commission document filed online Thursday. Earlier reports had shown that he spent only $ 153.31 on his campaign.

Messages requesting comment have been left with Durr.

Durr describes himself as a 2nd Amendment advocate and fiscally conservative who wants to cut taxes. In an interview with NJ.com, he described how unlikely he considered his victory to be. He previously ran unsuccessfully for the State Assembly in 2017 and 2019, but this is his first elected post.

“I joked with people and said, ‘I’m going to shock the world, I’m going to beat this man,'” Durr said Wednesday afternoon. “I said it, but I was really kidding. Because what luck has a person like me really stood up to this man? He is literally the second most powerful person in the state of New Jersey.

Sweeney is a blacksmith by trade who has served on the board of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Ironworkers. He is also a key ally and friend of Democratic power broker George Norcross, who is widely regarded as one of the most powerful unelected people in the state.

It is not known who will become the next president of the Senate. If Democrats retain control of the chamber, as the incomplete results they may make show, Democratic Senators will come together to choose their next leader.

The 3rd Legislative District covers parts of Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties.

On election day, Democrats controlled the State Assembly with 52 seats compared to Republicans 28. In the state Senate, the Democrats had 25 seats against 15 for the Republicans.

This article has been corrected to show that Durr is not a first-time candidate. He unsuccessfully ran for the State Assembly in 2017 and 2019.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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