Democratic New Jersey state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, cited a “red wave” on Wednesday when he conceded defeat to Republican outsider Edward Durr, a truck driver.
Durr was ahead in the race on election night earlier this month. The next day, Sweeney did not have a path to victory — but would not concede.
Wednesday, the Democrat cited a large turnout of Republican voters when letting go of the fight to keep his seat representing New Jersey’s 3rd legislative district.
“I of course accept the results. I want to congratulate Mr. Durr and wish him the best of luck,” Sweeney said when addressing reporters in Trenton, the Associated Press reported.
“It was a red wave,” he added.
The long-serving Democrat said he has not decided yet if he will challenge Durr in 2025.
“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,” Sweeney said. “I plan to keep speaking to those concerns.”
Sweeney had served as state Senate president since 2010.
Durr, when declaring victory at the Gloucester County Republican headquarters, attributed his victory to Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s heavy-handed COVID mandates.
“The voters have spoken,” he said. “They don’t want government rule by a dangerous guy armed with a bunch of executive orders.”
Durr also expressed a sense of being overwhelmed.
“I feel like I’m about to throw up,” he said. “This is all new to me. It’s all overwhelming, but I am very happy that the voters selected me. I’m going to earn that vote, and I’m going to prove them right.”
Durr spent almost nothing on the race relative to Sweeney. The AP reported he spent a modest $2,300 compared to Sweeney’s $305,000.
Durr said his grassroots campaign focused on knocking on doors. The Republican’s upset victory came as other Republicans unseated their Democratic rivals and Murphy nearly lost his re-election bid. Republican Jack Ciattarelli has not yet conceded.
In Virginia, on the same evening, Republicans swept across the state. Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the gubernatorial race, while Republican Winsome Sears will be the first woman of color to serve as lieutenant governor.
Republican Jason Miyares will be the state’s next attorney general while the state House of Delegates lost its Democratic majority.