NJ state Senate president trailing Republican truck driver who spent $153 on campaign

Edward Durr, a Republican candidate for president of the New Jersey Senate, is inching ahead of incumbent Stephen Sweeney (D) as of Wednesday morning, according to NJ.com.

In 2017, Sweeney managed to win reelection against a powerful Republican challenger, Fran Grenier; together, the two sides spent more than $24 million in the race. The New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission reported that the election may have been "the most expensive legislative race in U.S. history."

Durr, in contrast, claims that he has spent just $153 on his campaign, NJ.com reported.

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Durr's campaign focused on "limiting government, reducing taxes, and fixing the state's roads," according to NJ.com. His platform didn't receive much attention this election season, however.

His website initially led to many error codes, NJ.com reported, and those outside South Jersey largely had not heard of him before Tuesday.

Durr previously ran and lost a race for the state assembly in 2019. He has not once held elected office, according to NJ.com. He has lived in New Jersey all his life and worked as a truck driver for the past 25 years. 

NJ.com reported that Durr had compared his campaign challenge to Sweeney to repairing his rusty, old, beaten-down 1964 Mustang that sits in his front yard. "What it requires now is someone to show it a little TLC," Durr said.

Durr built his campaign in a grassroots fashion, going door to door in his district and introducing himself to local voters, NJ.com reported. Sweeney, in contrast, has long been a fixture in Trenton.

Durr put out a tweet showing himself campaigning with supporters in New Jersey.

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“I joked with people and I said, ‘I’m going to shock the world, I’m going to beat this man,’” Durr said when speaking with NJ.com Wednesday. “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.”

NJ.com observed that a Sweeney loss, beyond changing the state Senate's leadership, would also signal a larger change in the relationship between the legislature and the New Jersey governor's office

“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 said to NJ.com. “But his power, his clout, did not scare me.”

Durr described himself to NJ.com as a simple man who rides a Harley, walks his dogs, loves the Philadelphia Eagles and wants to bring everyday people back to state politics.

The narrow margin between Durr and Sweeney comes as the race between Gov. Phil MurphyPhil MurphySununu setback leaves GOP scrambling in New Hampshire House Democrats planning 1,000 events to tout accomplishments Ciattarelli formally concedes in New Jersey to Phil Murphy MORE (D) and Jack Ciattarelli (R) for New Jersey governor also inches along in a near-stalemate. As of Wednesday afternoon, the race was too close to call with about 90 percent of the votes in.

On Tuesday night, Ciattarelli held a slight lead over Murphy, but as of Wednesday afternoon, the tables had turned just slightly and Murphy held a slim edge in the vote.