Republican Ed Durr to defeat New Jersey Senate Speaker, CNN Projects

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CNN predicted on Friday that Durr, who spent two decades as a commercial truck driver and decided to run for office when denied a permit to carry a concealed weapon, will defeat the longtime Senate Speaker of State, Steve Sweeney.

Sweeney, the longest-serving state Senate speaker in New Jersey history, had been seen as the frontrunner to win the South Jersey seat he was first elected to in 2001.

His ouster at the hands of a Republican who, along with the other two GOP candidates on his list, passed – from 11 days before the election – less than $ 2,500, underlines the depth of the voter revolt on election day against the main democrats. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat who was to easily win a second term, was pushed back by his GOP challenger Jack Ciattarelli by just around two percentage points.

Asked in a Fox News interview the night after the election what his priority was when he arrived at the State Capitol, Durr vowed to be a “voice for the people” but lacked details.

“I really don’t know. That’s the key factor. I don’t know what I don’t know, so I’ll learn what I need to know,” Durr said. “I’ll guarantee you one thing: I’ll be the voice, and people will hear me, because if there’s one thing people will learn about me, I have a big mouth.”

Controversial tweets

The Republican has already been asked to report on old tweets uncovered by news outlets, including CNN.

CNN has obtained cached and archived copies of Durr’s tweets in which he indicates his support for QAnon and expresses Islamophobia.

In a 2019 tweet, Durr called the Prophet Muhammad a “pedophile” and Islam a “false religion” and a “cult of hate”.

In another tweet posted in the summer of 2020, Durr wrote to another Twitter user using the hashtag “WWG1WGA”, a well-known QAnon phrase that means “Where we go one, we all go”.

Durr also voiced xenophobic views, tweeting in 2018 that Murphy should “stop pushing the #sanctuary state and inviting # illegals into our state.” He added the hashtags “#BuildTheWall”, “#NoIllegals” and “#MAGA”. CNN also unearthed a tweet from Durr to State First Lady Tammy Murphy, calling Covid-19 a “Chinese virus” and accusing the “influx of illegal aliens” of “returning diseases.”

Responding to an article online about ordering police to use correct pronouns for transgender people, he tweeted: “It’s not enough that the police have to deal with all issues with criminals now. she must watch the pronouns she uses. Intelligence has no place in Trenton. ! ”

Durr also denied climate change in a tweet, saying: “First, there is no climate crisis, climate change is its calling seasons.” He called Planned Parenthood “murderers” in the same tweet.

Durr’s Twitter account has since been deleted. CNN has reached out to Durr and Twitter for comment.

In a statement to CNN affiliate KYW, the Republican apologized for his earlier Islamophobic comments.

“I’m a passionate guy and sometimes I say things in the heat of the moment. If I have said things in the past that have hurt someone’s feelings, I sincerely apologize. I support the law. for everyone to worship in their own way and to worship the God of their choice. I support everyone and I support everyone’s rights. That’s what I’m here to do, to work for the people and defend their rights. ”

It is not clear if he was asked about other offensive positions.

Durr, who CNN could not reach directly, has agreed to meet with leaders of the Muslim community in his district and representatives of the Council on US-Islamic Relations next week, Selaedin Maksut, executive director of the New Jersey section of the organization. Friday.

Durr’s statement apologizing for his Islamophobic tweets prompted the council to urge him to “meet with Muslim leaders and fully reject his comments and address the concerns of the Muslim community.”

“This ‘apology’ does not resolve the issues related to Mr. Durr’s bigoted and anti-Muslim statements. We urge him to meet with the Muslim leadership, fully reject his comments and address the concerns of the Muslim community,” he said. the national organization tweeted.

Maksut told CNN’s Evan McMorris-Santoro on Saturday that his organization hopes it can change its perspective on the Muslim faith.

“Through sincere conversation and dialogue, I think people can change, but it takes effort, it takes sincerity. And ultimately, there is no benefit in cornering it,” Maksut said. “So with a conversation, maybe two or three, and through the experience and coming to see the community, learning from your own constituents who are Muslims, we think we can change their perspective. on faith and people who follow the religion of Islam. It really is the only option we have. It is really our obligation as Muslims to do this.

No Sweeney Concessions

Durr in his campaign video threw out Sweeney as a rubber stamp for Murphy, claiming he “sat down and watched” as Murphy mismanaged the Covid-19 pandemic. Durr also criticized the state’s tax policies, a key part of Ciattarelli’s campaign message.

“The Senate Speaker spent 20 years in Trenton,” Durr says in the clip, which begins with his exit from the cab of a truck and ends with his exit on a motorcycle. “Higher taxes, growing debt and a rising cost of living – we deserve better. New Jersey it’s time for a change. So together let’s end the one-party regime.”

Sweeney, who has fended off better organized and heavily funded challengers in the past, has yet to concede the race.

Despite the Republicans’ surprise victory, the New Jersey legislature will remain under Democratic control. But the backlash in New Jersey and Virginia, where Democrats lost the governor’s mansion and full control of the House of Delegates, sent shockwaves across the country.

Democrats who already expect a tough midterm election season in 2022 are now scrambling to craft a message to protect the party’s fragile majorities in Congress.

This story was updated with additional reports on Friday.

CNN’s Jennifier Agiesta and Chris Cillizza contributed to this report.



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