The then-commercial trucker who famously ousted the longtime New Jersey Democratic Senate president lost his bid for a second term Tuesday, The Associated Press projects.
Republican state Sen. Ed Durr, who was known as “Ed the Trucker” in 2021 when he pulled off a major upset against then-New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney, will reportedly only serve one term. Durr was defeated Tuesday by his Democratic challenger, former state Assemblyman John Burzichelli.
The AP projected Burzichelli as having won South Jersey’s 3rd District at 12:19 a.m. Wednesday, with 53.2% of the vote to Durr’s 46.8%
Burzichelli, a longtime former lawmaker and former appropriations committee chairman, attributed the win on Tuesday to a focus on abortion and reproductive health throughout a campaign that featured relentless attacks against Durr. Burzichelli used comments attributed to Durr from before his election, suggesting women could avoid abortions by not having sex.
“I think women’s issues played a very big role in this race,” Burzichelli said during an interview with NJ PBS on Tuesday. “This win as it’s unfolding is reflective of women’s voices.”
Some races were yet to be called, but Democrats retained control in enough seats to block the GOP’s effort to retake one or both chambers for the first time in more than two decades.
Though Durr has yet to concede, Sweeney already reacted to his former rival’s apparent defeat. “I am thankful that the voters in the 3rd District recognize the need to vote for people who believe in respecting women and believe in respecting a woman’s right to choose,” Sweeney said, according to the Courier Post. “Furthermore, these (vote) results recognize the success of our efforts to continue to enact policies that will create jobs and make New Jersey affordable, competitive and prosperous for all of our citizens.”
Durr, a truck driver by trade for more than 25 years, propelled to GOP stardom in 2021 when the blue-collar worker defeated the longest serving legislative leader in New Jersey history.
At the time, Durr told Fox News he spent a little over $5,000 total on his campaign, with roughly $150 going to the primary and the remainder to the general election.
Democrats hadn’t considered Sweeney would have a serious challenge in the historically deep blue district.
After Tuesday’s election, a bright spot for Republicans was Owen Henry’s victory in the state Senate in the 12th District, which was open because of Democrat Sam Thompson’s retirement. Thompson is a longtime Republican who left the party this year after he said he was likely to face a primary challenger.
The Democratic wins are a departure from two years ago when Gov. Phil Murphy won a closer-than-expected contest against his GOP challenger and Republicans netted seven seats in legislative races. Tuesday’s results ensure Murphy will have a Democratic legislature in the final two years of his second term. All 120 legislature seats were on the ballot.
Fox News’ Houston Keene and The Associated Press contributed to this report.