MATTHEWS: The fascinating, unlikely victory of New Jersey’s Edward Durr

State Senator elect Edward Durr in Turnersville, N.J., Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

In a story that is about as “American” as it gets, an unlikely election victory took place earlier this month in the state of New Jersey that both shocked and delighted the country, depending on which side of the political aisle you’re on.

It involved a furniture-company truck driver, around $2,400, some Dunkin’ Donuts, and the powerful long-time leader of the state’s Senate.

Republican Edward Durr is that truck driver. He threw his hat into the ring against Democrat state Senate President Steve Sweeney because he didn’t like that he was denied a concealed-carry permit. Durr was also deeply concerned at the direction his state was headed in with the restrictive statewide COVID mandates put in place by Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy.

So Durr launched a campaign in which he spent approximately $2,400, according to media reports, some of which was reportedly used to provide Dunkin’ Donuts to volunteers for their help. In contrast, Sweeney spent between $300,000 to $500,000 (reports vary) on his failed re-election campaign. Quite the contrast, to say the least.

One tactic that might have helped Durr over the finish line — he won by a little over 2,000 votes — is that he took an old-school approach to win over voters. He cut a simple yet humble campaign ad via the use of his mobile phone camera, put up a basic website, and conducted a shoe-leather campaign where he himself knocked on the doors of residents in the Third Legislative District to get their opinions on the issues.

In between his truck routes, of course.

In addition to running a campaign and displaying an authenticity that obviously appealed to New Jersey voters, Durr, a father to three and grandfather to six, was also no doubt helped by the fact that an apparent red wave was taking place in the state, similar to what happened in Virginia, although Gov. Murphy won his re-election campaign by a slim margin and the state legislature is still controlled by Democrats.

After it was clear the race was over, both Sweeney and Murphy in separate public appearances acted like they were at a funeral for a dearly beloved fallen mobster, clearly flabbergasted like many other Democrats were that the second most powerful man in the state went down in defeat to a guy who proudly boasted of his truck driving career and his prized Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Since the Associated Press officially called the race for Durr and Sweeney conceded, Durr’s gotten a lot of media attention, including from the Washington Post. The paper seemed highly miffed that the media didn’t do much scouring of Durr’s social media posts, which they claimed might have kept him from winning.

Former President Donald Trump even called to congratulate him.

Gov. Murphy, while paying homage to Sweeney’s “leadership” during his decades in the state senate, declared Durr “dangerous” — because apparently in his view there is no need for a political outsider who has been highly critical of Murphy’s deadly handling of nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic to come to the state’s capital to shake things up a bit.

“I don’t know if I truly am fearless or stupid. Because who in their right mind would take on a person [like Sweeney] with that kind of power and clout?” Durr told, adding that Sweeney’s high position in state government “did not scare me.”

“…what chance did a person like me really stand against this man?” he wondered. “He’s literally the second-most powerful person in the state of New Jersey.”

But he’s not anymore, thanks to a plucky, unknown 59-year-old blue-collar guy from Gloucester County named Edward Durr.

Media analyst Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a regular contributor to RedState and Legal Insurrection.