GOP Truck Driver Edward Durr Leads NJ Senate Chief Steve Sweeney After $153 Campaign

A Republican truck driver who spent little money on his campaign looks set to defeat an incumbent Democrat who is the longest-serving New Jersey Senate president in the state's history.

Edward Durr had a lead of more than 2,000 votes over New Jersey state Senate President Steve Sweeney with almost all of the votes counted as of Wednesday evening, although the race had yet to be officially called. While New Jersey voters donated thousands to Durr over the course of his low-key campaign, the candidate said that he spent only spent $153 to secure the GOP nomination during the primary, including $66 on donuts and drinks.

While Democrats across the country suffered major losses during the off-year election, few were as improbable as Sweeney's likely defeat. Most political observers expected the long-serving Sweeney to easily win re-election and possibly run for governor in 2025. Durr, 58, had never held office and did not appear to believe that his victory was likely before the votes were counted.

"I joked with people and I said, 'I'm going to shock the world, I'm going to beat this man,'" Durr told on Wednesday afternoon. "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."

Steve Sweeney Edward Durr New Jersey Election
Republican Edward Durr, a virtual unknown who ran a bare-bones campaign, had a more than 2,000 vote lead over Democratic New Jersey state Senate President Steve Sweeney as of Wednesday night. Above, Sweeney is pictured during a hearing in Trenton, New Jersey, on February 24, 2015. Jeff Zelevansky/Getty

"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?" he added. "But his power, his clout, did not scare me."

Despite his solid lead, Durr has not yet declared victory. Sweeney has also not conceded defeat, reportedly postponing a New Jersey Senate leadership caucus meeting that had been set for Thursday "due to the closeness of several State Senate elections."

Durr previously ran a failed campaign for a New Jersey General Assembly seat in 2019, finishing in last place in a four-candidate race. During an August YouTube interview with conservative commentator Elizabeth Nader, Durr said that his decision to run against Sweeney was motivated by anger over being denied a concealed carry gun permit.

"I guess what motivated me more than anything was I went for my concealed carry," Durr said. "And I was told flat-out by the local sheriff, 'don't even bother.' And that kind of angered me...I've never been arrested and I couldn't get a concealed carry?"

"That really angered me, so I looked into what can you do to get into politics," he added. "I still don't consider myself a politician. I look at myself as just a person who wants to do what is right for the people."

Newsweek reached out to Sweeney for comment.