Stephen Sweeney, N.J. Senate President, Loses to Republican Truck Driver

“The Senate president has spent 20 years in Trenton: higher taxes, increasing debt, and a rising cost of living,” Mr. Durr says in his video.

Though he received little media attention, Mr. Durr conducted an interview in August with an online news outlet where he said he was angered he could not get a concealed carry permit in New Jersey, and called Mr. Murphy “arrogant.”

“They made him king in March of 2020,” Mr. Durr said in the interview, referring to emergency powers during the pandemic. “And they crowned him in June of 2021.”

Mr. Sweeney, in a statement released on Thursday, did not concede.

“The results from Tuesday’s election continue to come in, for instance there were 12,000 ballots recently found in one county,” Mr. Sweeney said. “While I am currently trailing in the race, we want to make sure every vote is counted. Our voters deserve that, and we will wait for the final results.”

Democrats, of course, still maintain single-party control over the entire state government, but Mr. Sweeney’s loss nonetheless shocked the forces that have long controlled Trenton.

Rarely did a governor’s priority reach the floor without Mr. Sweeney’s approval.

In the first two years of Mr. Murphy’s term, before the pandemic settled in, Mr. Sweeney served as an obstacle to the governor’s expansive progressive agenda, further burnishing his moderate Democratic bona fides by pushing back on increases in budget spending and a plan to tax the wealthy. While Mr. Murphy was largely able to come to an agreement with Mr. Sweeney and enact his agenda, the Senate president was often the most powerful counter force in a state controlled by Democrats.

“He was able to impose his will on legislation,” said Paul Vitale, a Democratic state senator. “He was a force of nature. So it will be a loss for those of us who respect him and support him.”

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