Even Durr harbored doubts about his chances and was not ready to declare victory in an interview on Wednesday, telling POLITICO he was “walking on eggshells” until the results became official. State Republicans quickly jumped to victory – despite deploying no resources in the race.
“I kept telling myself and telling people that I was going to do this, but in my head I was like, ‘You know, how am I going to beat the President of the Senate? said Durr, who unsuccessfully ran for the State Assembly in 2019 and has never held an elected office.
But Durr said that, as he sat in his living room with his family on Tuesday night as the results arrived, he realized there was a good chance he would soon be a member of the Senate of the ‘State – and the man who took down Sweeney.
“My daughter was sitting next to me. She laughed at me and said “Daddy, you have tears running down my face,” Durr said Wednesday morning.
Durr, 58, a father of three and a grandfather of six who grew up in South Jersey, estimates he spent less than $ 10,000 on the race. In contrast, the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, spent an estimated $ 5.4 million in 2017 to topple Sweeney, but still won by 18 points.
It was a much different election, with Republican districts and those with large blue-collar populations running en masse for Republicans.
It wasn’t just Sweeney. Durr’s Assembly running mate Bethanne McCarthy Patrick and Beth Sawyer appeared on track to defeat incumbents John Burzichelli and Adam Taliaferro (both D-Gloucester). Democrats will see their majority shrink in both houses of the state legislature. And Murphy, despite his victory, appears to have vastly underperformed his own campaign’s expectations.
Durr said Murphy’s coronavirus decrees, school vaccine and mask warrants, unemployment benefit snafus and a general distrust of South Jersey The democratic machine all contributed to his strong performance.
Sweeney, Durr said, “never challenged” Murphy during the pandemic.
“You have the unemployment debacle. Hiding children in school. You have Senator Sweeney trying to take away medical freedom rights from people, ”Durr said. “I think the perfect storm was that he got into a heap of you-know-what and couldn’t get out because he didn’t know which way to turn.” I just typed in the right focus.
Durr, who considers himself a “constitutional conservative,” said he also felt a backlash against the influence of the South Jersey Democrats, whose cohesion under influencer George Norcross made them virtually unbeatable – until now.
“Just the constant nepotism, the corruption, ‘if you take care of me I’ll take care of your business,’” Durr said. “You don’t have any proof, you can’t arrest anyone or prove anything, but there are always statements like ‘when there is smoke, there is fire.’
Durr’s grassroots victory and the appeal of an ordinary man caught him the attention of national conservative figures, who celebrated him on social media. “Hahaha not at all,” tweeted Texas Rep Dan Crenshaw.
But progressive New Jersey activists were also celebrating after years of clashes with Sweeney and his boss, Norcross, whose negotiating skills kept the Senate Speaker in office for so long. Norcross has often partnered with Christie, notably to reduce the benefits of public workers.
“He’s tried to torpedo almost every major piece of legislation for over 10 years,” said Sue Altman, executive director of the New Jersey Working Families Alliance. “The diet in South Jersey has been a complete conservation, runoff economy, bad for most problems. “
Durr’s holds deeply conservative positions. He advocated for lower income, corporate and other state taxes so “businesses grow” and for lower property taxes. He also said “abortion is bad and should be stopped,” pushing for legislation that would ban the procedure if a fetal heartbeat is detected.
Durr said he was a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, saying in a recent YouTube interview that difficulties in obtaining a concealed port permit had motivated him to run for office. New Jersey has some of the most aggressive gun control laws in the country.
“What motivated me more than anything ‘to get into politics was not being able to get a license to carry a concealed weapon,” Durr said in the interview. “I still don’t consider myself like a politician.
Daniel Han, Carly Sitrin, Ry Rivard and Katherine Landergran contributed to this report.