Ed Durr’s bare-bones campaign for New Jersey Senate attracted little attention until this week, after the Republican truck driver toppled Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney in a stunning upset.
Hours after the race was called in his favor, he faced his first political scandal and calls to resign over past social media posts.
In a 2019 tweet resurfaced by WNYC, Durr attacked the prophet Muhammad by name, denigrated Muslims as “fools,” and referred to Islam as a “false religion.”
Durr, 58, had made other incendiary claims on social media. He also downplayed the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and touted other right-wing conspiracy theories and referred to all undocumented immigrants as “criminals,” among other comments that have gained scrutiny.
But the anti-Muslim tweet drew swift condemnation. The Council on American-Islamic Relations called Durr’s remarks “hate-filled, xenophobic, and anti-Muslim.”
“Islamophobes and other bigots should not be in policy-making positions impacting the lives of Americans of all faiths and backgrounds,” the council wrote in a statement. “Mr. Durr should either renounce his hate-filled statements or resign from office.”
Muslim Advocated, a national civil rights organization, also called for the newly elected senator to apologize or resign. “Without a genuine apology, we have no faith that he can fairly represent the Muslims in his district and, frankly, we would worry about the safety of the American Muslims that will have to work with him,” the group wrote.
Durr chose the apology route.
“I’m a passionate guy and I sometimes say things in the heat of the moment. If I said things in the past that hurt anybody’s feelings, I sincerely apologize,” Durr said in a statement Friday, through his campaign.
“I support everybody’s right to worship in any manner they choose and to worship the God of their choice. I support all people and I support everybody’s rights,” he added. “That’s what I am here to do, work for the people and support their rights.”
Durr mounted an unsuccessful bid for a New Jersey State Assembly seat in 2019, but has never held elected office. His bootstrap campaign raised just $17,400 and spent just over $2,300, according to Politico NJ.
Speaking to reporters outside his Logan Township home on Thursday — which displays an American flag as well as a Gadsden “Don’t Tread On Me” flag, a Revolutionary War flag that has been adopted by the tea party movement and right-wing militia groups — he called his win over the 20-year incumbent Sweeney a repudiation of the state’s pandemic policies like vaccine and mask mandates.
“I’m absolutely nobody. I’m just a simple guy. It was the people, it was a repudiation of the policies that have been forced down their throats,” he said.
Durr, a nonunion trucker who refers to himself as “blue collar,” will take office in January and serve a two-year term, at which time New Jersey’s peculiar electoral system will allow him to run for another four-year term. State senators earn $49,000 annually.