Former NJ state Sen ‘Ed the Trucker’ launches bid for governor and predicts a Trump upset

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Former New Jersey state Sen. Edward Durr, who in 2021 made national headlines for unseating longtime state Senate President Stephen Sweeney in an otherwise quixotic bid, told Fox News Digital he believes the Garden State may see more than one political earthquake this year.

Durr, who faces 2021 GOP gubernatorial nominee Jack Ciattarelli and state Sen. Jon Bramnick in the Republican primary, will potentially have a rematch with Sweeney as he makes a run for the governorship.

The Gloucester County Republican said his gubernatorial campaign is not too unlike his first bid against Sweeney, remarking 2024 is also a “campaign of grassroots.”

“It is of the people, by the people and for the people,” he said. “I’m not your prototypical candidate, so to speak. I’m not a lawyer, not a doctor, not a rich businessman of sorts. You know, I’m just a regular, working-class guy.”

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Durr, who previously worked in construction and was a truck driver for a furniture company when he ran for state Senate, said he is the best candidate to “give people a voice in Trenton – because Trenton has been ignoring the regular person.”

“They have always addressed their special interests while ignoring the common man and woman just trying to make ends meet, trying to get by. And somebody needs to speak up for us,” Durr added.

While Durr said he supports former President Trump and attended his recent rally on the beach in Wildwood, Durr added there is a public misconception that he is an “ultra-conservative.” Instead, he described himself as an open-minded conservative with traditional viewpoints on fiscal responsibility, public safety, parental rights and the Second Amendment.

“But I’m also open-minded to things. I understand that there’s compromise in government. So I don’t like being painted into one category,” he said.

“I’ve never liked labels. There’s a sense in that because I think many people say [New Jersey] is a hard blue state. I don’t see us as a hard blue state. I see us as a more purple state with a big blue streak running down the middle of it.”

Outside the denser suburbs abutting the New Jersey Turnpike, Durr said it is a “mixed bag” of moderate-to-conservative New Jerseyans who simply want a voice in their government.

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The main issue, he said, is voter turnout, which he credited for his win over Sweeney in 2021. Durr said 12,000 more voters cast ballots in his first race, but some did not return to the polls in 2023, which he conversely credited for his loss to then-Assemblyman John Burzichelli.

“That’s what we’re going to have to do. That’s why I lost this last time,” he said.

Durr added he thinks Trump also has a strong chance to win New Jersey, in part because of the geopolitical dynamics he previously described.

“The Democrats have [gone] so far and just ignored everybody. They went to the edges. And Donald Trump speaks to the masses,” he said.

“You’ve seen it with Wildwood. That’s the biggest rally that’s ever happened in New Jersey; never happened before.”

“You couldn’t fill a church with Joe Biden supporters – But you can fill the entire beach of Donald Trump supporters and more wanted to come, but they couldn’t get there.”

Additionally, Durr said, the same working-class voters who propelled him to victory will be the ones to do so for Trump if he flips New Jersey.

While New Jersey Republicans have been more successful on the gubernatorial level than elsewhere, with recent officeholders Chris Christie and Christine Todd Whitman, Durr said that if elected, he is prepared to work with a Democratic legislature, though he did not rule out the possibility Republicans could score an upset in the state assembly.

“One of the major ways is cut the fat. There is a lot of fat. And New Jersey’s budget, the budget continues to increase year after year,” he said, suggesting there are Democrats in the state who may be willing to negotiate with a “Governor Durr” on that front.

“It’s a simple policy. Just get rid of the fat and allow people to grow and earn a living – and New Jersey will grow.”

An added quality unique to the Garden State is civilian distrust of their officials, he said, discussing the indictments against Sen. Robert Menendez. Menendez’s corruption allegations are helping show why people are “angry and ready to push back” in support of elected officials that speak for them, Durr said.

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“It’s been an acceptable situation… where there’s corruption in politics. I think people are finally learning that it doesn’t have to be. We can actually fight back and say, no, we’re not accepting this. You’re going to serve us. You work for us, ‘We the People’, and you’re going to answer to us,” he said.

“And I think that’s finally come about, and I like the possibility of New Jersey actually getting a Republican U.S. senator.”

When asked about potentially facing off with Sweeney once more, Durr said his strategy remains the same. He accused Sweeney of portraying himself as a moderate during his Senate tenure but said instead the former lawmaker is a progressive and claimed the Democrat himself stated much of outgoing Gov. Phil Murphy’s liberal agenda could have gotten through the legislature without his approval.

Sweeney’s campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

When asked about how he would handle sudden crises like the anti-Israel protests on campus, which have also occurred at the state’s major university, Rutgers, Durr said he believes in First Amendment rights to assemble and speak, but that violence and intimidation cross the line.

“Those protesters are interfering with students trying to go to school. They have blocked them. They have harassed them. They have assaulted them … that cannot be tolerated,” he said.

“I think the protesters are wrong. They don’t understand the dynamics of the situation in the Middle East. They’re protesting for some reason – I have no idea why they’re doing it, but if that’s what they want to do, they’re free to do it if they’re not interfering.”

Requests for comment from the New Jersey Republican Party and New Jersey Democratic State Committee were not returned at press time.