Former state Senate President Steve Sweeney wants to be governor.
Bounced out of the senate in 2021 by nonunion truck driver Ed Durr, Sweeney told NJ.com this morning that he is running to succeed sitting Gov. Phil Murphy in 2025.
An ironworker by trade, Sweeney won an LD-3 senate seat in 2001 as one of the key pieces of a surging South Jersey Democratic Organization fortified by powerbroker George Norcross III.
Sweeney became senate president in 2009 as part of a political package that included Republican Governor Chris Christie and the late Sheila Oliver of Essex County as speaker.
He ran for governor in 2017, or in the lead-up to 2017, but could not overcome the north county alliance-building of the Murphy Campaign, which succeeded in suffocating both Sweeney and Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop out of the Democratic Primary.
Now, with Murphy a lame duck and focused on getting First Lady Tammy Murphy elected to the United States Senate, Sweeney – and Fulop – have returned to become the first two candidates vying to be the 2025 nominee for governor from the Democratic Party.
Republican Jack Ciattarelli – who narrowly lost to Phil Murphy in 2021, the same year that Sweeney lost his senate seat – is also running.
Sweeney made history in 2017 as he opted for reelection instead of running statewide.
“About $18.7 million was spent on the South Jersey race, with an estimated $14.4 million coming from independent special interest groups, the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission announced on Friday. The commission cited data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics to conclude that it was the costliest such race ever.”
Having spent a nationally historically massive amount of money on legislative reelection, Sweeney got coldcocked by Republican truck driver Durr in 2021, and subsequently given the heave-ho off the legislative redistricting commission in 2021 by Democratic State Party Chairman LeRoy Jones.
From InsiderNJ Columnist Carl Golden on the end of Sweeney’s senate career:
The seismic cataclysm on election day ended it all.
Sweeney was brought low by a 58-year-old commercial truck driver from Logan Township named Edward Durr who pulled off arguably the most stunning upset in legislative election history.
Durr said he was moved to take on the hopeless task of running against Sweeney because he was unhappy with the state’s restrictive laws on carrying a concealed weapon.
He spent, he said, $153 on his campaign, a sum equal to a Saturday afternoon shopping trip to Costco for most people.
When the 2022 session of the Legislature opens in January, for the first time in 12 years someone other than Sweeney will gavel the Senate to order.