Trucker stuns political world with major upset win against N.J. State Senate President

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New Jersey state senator Edward Durr's campaign ad
Edward Durr steps out of a truck in his campaign ad for New Jersey State Senate.

Edward Durr, a company driver for the furniture chain Raymour & Flanigan, just pulled off perhaps the greatest political upset of the year by unseating the longest-serving New Jersey State Senate president, Steve Sweeney, after spending only $153 on his primary campaign, with about $66 of that money being spent on Dunkin' Donuts. 

Durr's story, now a national media sensation, started when the local sheriff told him he couldn't get a concealed carry gun permit and ended up with one of the more embarrassing political defeats for Democrats. 

When Durr, 58, tried to get a concealed carry permit earlier this year he was "told flat-out by the local sheriff, 'Don't even bother.' And that kind of angered me," he told The Nader Narrative, a conservative political show. "I'm a truck driver and I've been to every military base up and down the East Coast. I've been to the Pentagon... 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."

Durr, a lifelong New Jersey resident from Camden County, has three children in the state and blue-collar roots, as his dad was a carpenter. In 2017, opponents of Sweeney had spent $5 million or more to unseat him, but failed as Sweeney won by 18 points. 

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Sweeney didn't feel too threatened by Durr, so the 11-year State Senate President and union ironworker ran a subdued campaign. 

By Thursday, Sweeney had likely come to regret that, as Durr's narrow win against him became official. Durr told Politico that in total, he doubts he spent more than $10,000 on the entire campaign -- a minuscule amount for such a high-profile race. Durr won the tight race by just about 2,000 votes. 

“I’m absolutely nobody. I’m just a simple guy. It was the people, it was a repudiation of the policies that have been forced down their throats,” Durr told reporters on Thursday. 

Durr also seemed animated by the pandemic and the unprecedented government mandates that resulted from it. 

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“It’s people told they can’t have a job. They can’t go to church. They can’t go to school. You can’t go shopping. They can’t go and eat dinner,” said Durr. “You cannot continue to tell people they cannot do things when we live in the freest country in the world. And you think you’re just gonna sit on your hands and do nothing. Gov. Murphy kept telling you, ‘no, no, no.’ And Senator Sweeney sat there and all right, whatever. So the people said, ‘No, you’re not doing your job. Take a seat, we'll find somebody else to do the job,’” he said, referencing New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, who narrowly kept his post on Tuesday.

But Durr's newfound fame also surfaced some regrettable anti-Islam social media posts, for which he has since apologized. 

"I’m a passionate guy, and I say things in the heat of the moment. And if I said anything in the past that hurt anybody’s feelings, I sincerely apologize. I support everybody’s right to worship in any manner they choose to, the God of their choice," Durr said Thursday, according to Fox29. "I support all people and I support everybody’s rights. And that’s what I’m here for – to work for the people and support their rights."

Looking forward, Durr will join the New Jersey State Senate, but likely not assume Sweeney's post as president. New Jersey State Senators make $49,000 a year, and many hold other positions. Durr himself expressed uncertainty in an interview with Fox News following his win

"I really don't know," Durr said about how he'd proceed in the New Jersey State House. "That's the key factor. I don't know what I don't know. So, I will learn what I need to know... I'm going to guarantee you one thing: I will be the voice and people will hear me... When I want to be heard, I will be heard... I will be that voice for the people."

Overdrive has reached out to Durr and will update this story with any further comment.