Politics

The Most Powerful Machine Politician in New Jersey Is Losing to a Truck Driver Who Reports Spending $153 on His Campaign

A collage of images of Edward Durr's Twitter homepage, which features his photo over images of an eagle and a U.S. flag.
Durr! Photo illustration by Slate. Screengrab from Twitter.

New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney is the most powerful legislator associated with his state’s Democratic machine, which, long story short, is run in South Jersey (where Sweeney is from) by an insurance executive named George Norcross who doesn’t actually hold office and is a member of Mar-a-Lago because he was friends with Donald Trump in the 1980s. The way the whole deal works, allegedly, is that the machine politicians do favors for state business interests, which then provide them with the campaign cash they need to crush their challengers.

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Sweeney was so confident in his position, in fact, that this June he and Norcross met with legislators in the north part of the state to reportedly discuss a potential Sweeney campaign for governor … in 2025.

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There’s been a big hiccup there, though:

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Who is Edward Durr? I will be pleased to tell you. He says he is a truck driver, his tremendous Twitter header is pictured above, and, according to NJ.com, he compared the purpose of his campaign to “restoring a rusted, broken down 1964 Mustang that’s sitting on bald tires in his front yard.” (A different outlet, NBC 10 in Philadelphia, tried to reach Durr but was only able to speak to his mother, who, it says, “shared that she prays ‘every day that he wins.’ ”) Durr’s latest state financial disclosure form attested that he had raised about $10,000 for his campaign and spent $153 of it, of which $66.64 went to a Dunkin’ in Upper Pittsgrove.

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It’s a little hard to draw any specific ideological lesson here because in New Jersey Sweeney was generally considered an obstacle to Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s agenda rather than a supporter of it. (The state teachers union hates this guy so much that they actually spent $5 million supporting his Republican opponent in 2017.) Meanwhile, your New Jersey–based correspondent is hearing secondhand that Sweeney is calling members of his caucus and blaming progressives for his loss, as one does. In any case, he counted his chickens before they hatched, and Edward Durr drove over them with a semitruck.

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