New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney, one of the most powerful Democrats in the state, conceded that he lost his reelection to truck driver Edward Durr.
“I of course accept the results. I want to congratulate Mr. Durr and wish him the best of luck,” Sweeney said during a speech on Wednesday in the statehouse, conceding that a “red wave” in his district caused him to lose his longtime seat.
“There were 12,000 more people that voted at this time than in 2017,” the Democrat told reporters.
Durr, a Raymour & Flanigan furniture truck driver, ran a low-budget campaign and shot a campaign video on a smartphone. A political newcomer, Durr defeated Sweeney by more than 2,000 votes in New Jersey’s 3rd District.
Sweeney told reporters that he won’t withdraw from public life and did not say whether he would seek reelection or run for governor.
“What the voters said in this election is New Jersey is a state filled with hardworking people who want to provide for their families and as leaders we need to speak directly to the concerns of all voters,” he continued. “I plan to keep speaking to those concerns.”
Also during his speech, Sweeney said he entered politics after his daughter Lauren was born prematurely.
“Twenty years later, I was able to make sure that all New Jersey parents had the same opportunity to be with their loved ones in their time of greatest need when the paid family leave bill I sponsored was signed into law,” he said.
Analysts and commentators have said Sweeney’s loss, as well as Republican gubernatorial candidate coming within a hair of defeating Gov. Phil Murphy, could signal a bad omen for Democrats both in New Jersey—a reliably blue state—and around the United States ahead of the 2022 midterms. In Virginia, Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe in a state that saw President Joe Biden win by 10 percentage points last year.
“No one on God’s Earth could have predicted that,” Democratic state Sen. Richard Codey said of Sweeney’s loss, reported NJ.com
But Durr told Fox News that his “entire team worked our butts off to win this election. We knocked on thousands of doors to achieve this win … I am confident that mathematically, the results of this election will hold.”
An election to fill Sweeney’s Senate presidency seat is scheduled to be held later this week, officials told local media.