Trucker who stunned New Jersey ousted after 1 term

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Former Assemblymember John Burzichelli won a key victory for Democrats Tuesday night, defeating Ed Durr, who became a star on the right after his shocking defeat of Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney in 2021, the Associated Press projects.

Burzichelli’s Democratic Assembly running mates, Heather Simmons and Dave Bailey Jr., also lead Republican Assemblymember Bethanne McCarthy Patrick and Hopewell Township Committee member Tom Tedesco. The Associated Press has not yet called the Assembly election.

Background: Durr, a truck driver, slipped under the political radar in 2021, surprising even himself when he ousted Sweeney, who had invested little in his reelection campaign and focused more on running for governor in 2025. Democrats back then did not use opposition research against Durr, like when he wrote on Facebook in 2020 about abortion that “Women do have a choice! Keep their legs closed.”

Democrats did not miss that opportunity in this election, seizing on the comments and spending heavily on TV advertisements and mailers attempting to tar other Republicans with them as well.

Burzichelli, who chaired the powerful Assembly Appropriations Committee for 10 years, also criticized Durr for focusing on pro-gun and anti-abortion legislation at the expense of resources for the district, which benefited from the leadership positions of Sweeney and Burzichelli.

At Burzichelli’s campaign headquarters Tuesday night, Sweeney sounded a note of vindication.

“It feels like a wrong has now been righted,” he told NJ Spotlight News.

Key context: Burzichelli’s victory returns some power to the once dominant but recently ailing South Jersey Democratic machine.

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