Democrat John Burzichelli unseats Republican Sen. Ed Durr in 3rd District

By: - November 8, 2023 12:30 am

Sen. Ed Durr’s ouster of then-Senate President Steve Sweeney in 2021 made him something of a GOP star. (Hal Brown for New Jersey Monitor)

Democrats have swept races in the 3rd Legislative District, reclaiming seats they lost amid surprise Republican victories two years ago that ousted New Jersey’s longest-serving Senate president.

Former Assemblyman John Burzichelli leads first-term incumbent Sen. Ed Durr (R-Gloucester) by nearly 4,000 votes in this closely watched district, where Durr’s ouster of then-Senate President Steve Sweeney in 2021 made him something of a GOP star.

The Democrat’s running mates, Gloucester County Commissioner Heather Simmons and Ranch Hope CEO Dave Bailey, also appear to have won their own races, albeit by slimmer margins, against Republicans Assemblywoman Bethanne McCarthy Patrick and Hopewell Township Committeeman Tom Tedesco.

Durr faced an uphill battle for a second term. His victory over Sweeney, however shocking, was partly the result of surprise. Democrats had not expected the longest-serving Senate president in state history would face a serious challenge in a district that had been reliably Democratic for most of its existence, including the entirety of Sweeney’s tenure as a legislator.

And Durr’s conservative stances on abortion, publicized shortly after his 2021 victory and honed into attack ads in an abortion-centric election cycle this year, proved a dire vulnerability.

A Democratic victory in the 3rd District, coupled with another victory in the neighboring 4th, marks a reversal of fortune for South Jersey Democrats, who saw their influence wane in the two years following Sweeney’s loss.


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Nikita Biryukov
Nikita Biryukov

Nikita Biryukov most recently covered state government and politics for the New Jersey Globe. His tenure there included revelatory stories on marijuana legalization, voting reform and Rep. Jeff Van Drew's decamp to the Republican Party. Earlier, he worked as a freelancer for The Home News Tribune and The Press of Atlantic City.