New Jersey elections: Three Senate races to watch in state primaries

State of the State New Jersey
New Jersey State Sen. and former Democratic Gov. Richard Codey is seen before New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy delivers his State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature at the statehouse, in Trenton, N.J., Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) Matt Rourke/AP

New Jersey elections: Three Senate races to watch in state primaries

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There are three key state Senate races to watch on Tuesday as New Jersey voters head to the polls for the state primaries.

Republicans hope to flip both chambers of the state legislature in the general election this November, where Democrats currently hold a 46-34 advantage in the state Assembly and a 25-15 margin in the Senate.


Here is a closer look at three important state Senate races:

1. District 3:

Incumbent state GOP Sen. Ed Durr shocked New Jersey in 2021 by defeating then-Senate President Steve Sweeney in the state’s 3rd legislative district. Now Durr faces a challenge from one of his own 2021 running mates, Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer.

Durr, who was an unknown truck driver before 2021, has won support from the district’s three Republican organizations despite attacks from Sawyer. Durr and Sawyer never got along despite running on the same ticket, according to Politico.

Sawyer claimed Durr’s history of making “inflammatory” comments on social media would make him vulnerable to Democrats if he won the nomination.

“His baggage and extreme rhetoric dragged down Republicans in Gloucester County last year and he’ll do it again if he’s the nominee,” Sawyer said in a statement. “When given a chance to defend this record and debate me he didn’t have the courage to show up. His desperate attacks against me are backfiring because people know the truth. If Republicans want to hold this seat, Ed Durr cannot be our nominee.”

Sawyer has also criticized Durr for introducing bills on issues such as abortion while doing little for the district he is supposed to represent. But Durr defended his actions in the state Senate, claiming he does what he promises.

“I’m just over what Sawyer says. She says a lot of things. She implies a lot of things. I’ve read that she’s called me a coward,” Durr said. “Wouldn’t a coward be someone who doesn’t push forward legislation but acts like they’re a conservative? At least I do what I say I’m going to do. I’ve never abstained from a vote, while she has on abortion.”

2. District 4

Republicans are optimistic that they can flip the neighboring district, which includes parts of Camden, Gloucester, and Atlantic counties. The district has been largely controlled by Democrats for the past 20 years, but the retirement of Democratic state Sen. Fred Madden has opened a window for a conservative candidate.

But the Republicans in the district are split over who they support, with the Gloucester County GOP supporting Gloucester County Commissioner Nick DeSilvio, while Atlantic and Camden County GOP support former Washington Township Councilman Chris Del Borrello.

DeSilvio, who is close friends with Durr, also has social media posts that some conservatives fear will give the election to the Democrats. One such example is a Facebook post from 2020, in which DeSilvio wrote, “A woman does have a choice! Keep her legs closed!” 

DeSilvio is also facing backlash after gaining support from a former Democratic-leaning super PAC called American Representative Majority, which sent out flyers attacking Del Borrello. The organization was called American Democratic Majority until just last week.

“As far as electability is concerned, I just think that we have solid, direct evidence that even the Norcross Democrats want to run against Nick DeSilvio,” Del Borrello told Politico. “They think he’s the weaker candidate. They are directly interfering in our Republican primary to deliberately prop up the weaker Republican candidate, Nick DeSilvio. I think that speaks volumes of who the Democrats are afraid of. They’re afraid of my ticket.”

3. District 27

One seat Democrats are likely to keep in the general elections is being contested by two Democratic incumbents due to a kink in the recent redistricting map that placed state Sen. Nia Gill’s hometown inside state Sen. Richard Codey’s district.

Both candidates have been in the state legislature for decades, but Codey is favored to win reelection due to prominence as a former New Jersey governor and an endorsement from current Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ). Murphy described Codey as a “hardworking and dedicated public servant.”


Codey was first elected to the state Senate in 1982 but served as governor of New Jersey from November 2004 until January 2006. Gill has worked in the state Senate since 2002. There has been little exchange between the candidates because they largely agree on most issues.

Tuesday marks Election Day and the last day of in-person voting. But residents were allowed to vote in person over the weekend as well. Polls close statewide at 8 p.m.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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