That title goes to Edward Durr, a little known — and even little-r financed — Republican who appears to have unseat Stephen Sweeney, the state Senate majority leader and one of the most powerful Democrats in the Garden State.
CNN has not yet made a projection in the race, but a count as of late Thursday morning showed Durr holding a 2,298-vote lead with 51.8% of the vote to Sweeney’s 48.1%. (Note: There may be a sizable number of ballots left to count in these counties, and if there are mail-in ballots, they could tighten the margin.)
Sweeney was considered a shoo-in for the South Jersey seat he has held since 2004. He is the longest-tenured state Senate leader in New Jersey history and was widely expected to run for governor in 2025 when current Gov. Phil Murphy (D) is term limited out of office. (Murphy eked out a second term over Republican Jack Ciattarelli on Tuesday.)
Durr, on the other hand, had only a losing race for state Assembly in 2019 under his belt. He spent two decades as a commercial truck driver and only decided to run against Sweeney when he was denied a concealed carry permit for a gun.
Given Sweeney’s powerful post and his, um, relative lack of resources, even Durr admitted to NJ.com that he didn’t expect to win.
And, it seems clear now that Sweeney underestimated Durr — hugely.