A truck hauls shipping containers at Yusen Terminals at the Port of Los Angeles in Los Angeles, Calif., in 2019. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Republican Edward Durr defeated New Jersey Senate president Stephen Sweeney in New Jersey’s third district.

“I was never really a big political person, I’m very blue collar. My father was a carpenter, I did carpentry, and then I gravitated into truck driving — that’s what I do for a living, I’m a truck driver,” explained Durr during an August interview with Elizabeth Nader. 

Now Durr, truck driver, has picked up a new side hustle as a state senator, one who earned his seat by vanquishing the upper chamber’s — and arguably the state’s — most powerful political figure. Durr has said that his seemingly quixotic run for office was inspired by a local sheriff telling him not to ‘bother’ applying for a concealed carry permit. Durr has never been arrested.

“That really angered me and so I looked into what can you do to get into politics,” explained Durr.

Did Sweeney ever stand a chance once those fateful words left that sheriff’s mouth?

While it is his own experience with government that served as the inciting incident for Durr’s unlikely ascendance, his campaign focused on issues that resonated with his district: COVID restrictions, high taxes, and the economy more generally. Issues that Dan Scharfenberger, executive director of the Senate Republican Majority for the 2021 election cycle, told National Review drove voters to vote Republican all across the state.

Durr’s victory comes in the context of a strong Republican performance throughout New Jersey — where Jack Ciattarelli nearly shocked incumbent Democratic governor Phil Murphy — and the country. In Virginia, the only other state that featuring a gubernatorial race, Republicans swept the contests for statewide office.

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