Many of our readers know former NJ Senator Ed “The Trucker” Durr as the man that defeated the most powerful lawmaker in Trenton, NJ State Senate President Stephen Sweeney. Sweeney was the long-serving President in the history of New Jersey.
This last election cycle, in November of 2023, the entire New Jersey legislature was up for re-election. Unfortunately, Senator Durr was unseated. We wanted to find out more and ask what his plans for the future are.
News2A: Do you believe your loss was in any way related to a lack of support from the Republican party?
Ed Durr: My loss was my loss solely. I was the top of the ticket and I failed. In 2021 I was able to get over 33k people to vote for me. In 2023 I failed to motivate the voters and only 28k came out for me. What ever the NJGOP and others did or didn’t do is for others to decide but for me I have to take ownership of my failure in this election. Blaming others will not fix things and will not help me with my next race.
News2A: Do you have any ambitions to run for public office again?
Ed Durr: Yes I intend to run for office again. I actually had a few people trying to talk me into running this year for NJ US senate seat against Bob Menendez or Tammy Murphy or Andy Kim but I felt I needed to take some time off. Hopefully, I will be back soon.
News2A: What did you learn about the way the legislative process works in New Jersey during your time in the Senate?
Ed Durr: I would say the whole process was eye opening but also a bit disappointing. To find out that unless you are well liked or you have the majority, getting anything done or passed is near impossible. Outside of Trenton is where being a Senator matters more.
News2A: How is the reality of this process different from what citizens believe it to be?
Ed Durr: I think most people believe their voice matters but sadly rarely are the people heard. They wait until the last minute to post bills so the public has very little time to come and speak against or for a bill. People should be informed at least two weeks before any bill is to go up in committee.
News2A: There was recently a controversial bill that passed and granted a significant raise for lawmakers. Some argue it was overdue, others that it was too much. Can you give us your perspective on being a lawmaker, the time and costs involved in this public service, and what a fair remuneration might look like?
Ed Durr: Yes a bill giving the members a 67% raise was passed, I voted NO. The Dems tried to offer me things to get me to vote yes but I refused. Now the real truth, everyone wants to make more money but our job is not hard and it is shameful that anyone voted for this bill. I work hard for the people, yes, I was on call basically 24/7 and I did get calls at all kinds of hours. We have to go to many events and still do a real job, but as jobs go it was still easier than any job I’ve ever had in my life. I think the fact that cops and firefighters still haven’t gotten COLA while they pass this is criminal and every member that voted yes should be primary next election cycle, Republican or Democrat.
News2A: With this experience under your belt, and an inside perspective of “how the sausage is made”, what are the most pressing challenges facing the New Jersey legislature?
Ed Durr: Again, I think the fact that the people and legislators don’t get to see the bills they are voting on until days before the committee or vote session needs to be corrected. Plus, I think they pass way too many bills. At some point you would think there are no more laws that can be made?
News2A: What is the most effective way, in your opinion, to sway New Jersey voters to support a conservative candidate in the next gubernatorial election?
Ed Durr: I really think there are enough voters, I think the real challenge is getting them to come out and vote. It is really sad that we think a 35% or 45% turn out is good. We should be talking about 80% or 90% turn out. We need to convince conservative voters to use what we have. As they say “bank your vote,” we need to get them to use VBM (vote by mail) and early voting. I was behind 7k votes before the first voter cast their ballot on election day because of VBMs.
News2A: You worked with people on both sides of the aisle, presumably. In your opinion, which lawmakers, regardless of party, had a fair and open-minded approach with an aim of serving the best interests of the public?
Ed Durr: Truthfully, I think they all believe they do feel that they have the best interest of the people, but most don’t. There were ones I could work with on the Democrat side on one issue where we agree and find they were too far left on another. Joe Cryan supported me on a couple things but he is a gun grabber and he and I would argue from time to time. I used to sit next to Joe when I first got there but after Sam Thompson flipped parties I was moved out of my seat.
News2A: Are there any other subjects you’d like to address from your time in office?
Ed Durr: I had hoped that even though I was a Republican that the Democrats would leave partisanship behind and do what’s right. I prime sponsored bills for firefighters, hunters, education and tax cuts. I even came up with a bill that offered a tax cut to pet owners. I’m sure many can relate to vet bills.
News2A: What’s next for you?
Ed Durr: I am going to spend time with my wife Lynn and work on few things this year. I’m working on this non-profit Veterans charity that will hopefully help all the men and women in my area. I am also going to be working with this PAC to raise money for like-minded candidates. Eventually, I hope to place my name on another ballot someday, maybe sooner rather than later since I’m not getting any younger.