This has been quite the week for New Jersey Republicans. They picked up at least 4 – and possibly as many as 8 – Assembly seats, elected a new Minority Leader for the General Assembly, and saw the Democratic Senate president ousted by a truck driver.
In Tuesday’s elections, Republicans flipped at least four seats in the General Assembly and seem on track to flip four more. This would bring the Republicans’ total number of seats up from 28 to 36, the largest Republican caucus in New Jersey since 2001. It also reduces the Democratic majority’s margin from 44 to 36 seats.
Of the Republicans who won in the Assembly, ten signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, vowing not to raise any taxes if elected. In the Senate, 12 of the victorious Republicans signed the pledge.
Assembly Republicans also held a leadership election on Thursday to appoint a new Minority Leader. John DiMaio won the election 25-19. Nancy Muñoz had been on track to win the position, but her campaign faltered after conservative activists objected to some of her views on abortion, guns, and vaccinations. Republican Ned Thompson will be Republican Conference Leader while Antwan McClellan was picked as minority whip.
Even with a much-closer-than-expected race for governor, the shocker of the election cycle was in the State Senate, where Republicans netted one seat as Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney, one of the most powerful politicians in New Jersey, was defeated by a truck driver.
Edward Durr has become a media staple for pulling off one of the greatest political upsets in recent memory. In true David and Goliath fashion, Durr defeated Sweeney to represent the third legislative district, despite possessing a miniscule budget and Sweeney holding the position for nearly a decade. In 2017, Republican challenger Fran Grenier spent millions in a failed attempt to unseat Sweeney. Durr succeeded while spending less than $10,000 (erroneously reported by some as under $200).
The 58-year-old father of three and grandfather of six worked as a truck driver for the last 25 years, running deliveries for the furniture store Raymour & Flanigan. After a local Sherriff told him not to bother applying for a concealed carry permit, Durr decided to enter politics, ultimately leading to his stunning victory over Sweeney.
Durr says he isn’t much of a politician, saying “I’m very blue collar. My father was a carpenter, I did carpentry, and then I gravitated into truck driving — that’s what I do for a living, I’m a truck driver.” When asked what he will do upon taking office, Durr said, “I really don’t know. That’s the key factor. I don’t know what I don’t know. So, I will learn what I need to know.”