Sen. Steve Sweeney, the longest-serving Senate president in New Jersey history, officially conceded in the race for the 3rd legislative district Wednesday.
He made the announcement at 1 p.m., during a relatively short press conference at the State House, where he said he will not seek a recount.
His concession comes a week after the Associated Press called the election for his opponent, GOP newcomer Edward Durr.
Durr made headlines for spending just close to $10,000 altogether on his campaign, and for Islamophobic comments he made on social media for which he has since apologized.
“All votes have been fairly counted and I, of course, accept the results,” Sweeney told reporters. “I want to congratulate Mr. Durr and wish him the best of luck.”
Nearly 12,000 more people in the 3rd district showed up to vote in this year’s election compared to in 2017. Sweeney lost to Durr in a stunningly close race — being edged out by nearly 2,000 votes.
“It was a red wave,” Sweeney said in response to a reporter’s question about his failed campaign.
“We have to focus on the things that are important to people in the state. And we have to listen to them.”
Sweeney ran down a list of his accomplishments while in office, citing the state’s paid family leave law, which he sponsored, as one of his biggest successes.
Sweeney has served as Senate president since 2010. When pressed about running in his district again in two years, Sweeney did not verbally commit to it, but he stated he would not “go away.”
“I’ll be speaking from a different podium,” he said. “But I promise you I will be just as loud and just as forceful a voice for change.”
Sweeney has been linked to a possible bid for governor in 2025, according to the New Jersey Globe.
Political jockeying among democrats as to who will take his place as the second most powerful government official in the state has already begun. Union County Sen. Nicholas Scutari reportedly has lined up a significant number of votes, while Essex County Sen. Nia Gill has also thrown her hat into the ring.
The process for selecting a new Senate president will take several months. The Democratic caucus meets in private to select a nominee, before the full Senate votes on Jan. 11, according to a spokesperson for Senate Democrats. A candidate for Senate president needs at least 21 votes (out of 40) to be elected.
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