Republicans are backing Edward Durr and Beth Sawyer for State Assembly in the 3rd district against incumbents John Burzichelli (D-Paulsboro) and Adam Taliaferro (D-Swedesboro).
The 3rd has not gone Republican since Jack Collins and Gary Stuhltrager ran for the last time in 1999.
Durr is a commercial truck driver. Sawyer, a realtor and member of the Woolwich Land Use Board, ran for local office in 2018. She placed third, running 50 votes behind her running mate, Craig Frederick, and 64 votes behind the Democrat Natalie Matthias.
John Kalnas is challenging Burzichelli and Taliaferro in the Democratic primary under the “FDR Democrat” label.
Burzichelli, a former Paulsboro mayor who lost to Stuhltrager by 3,915 votes in 1999, has now won nine consecutive Assembly races wide comfortable margins.
It was Burzichelli’s race ’99 race that set off a Gloucester County Democratic war.
State Sen. Raymond Zane (D-Woodbury) had a deal with Collins and Stuhltrager not to go after each other. Republicans never seriously contested the Senate seat and Democrats left Collins and Stuhltrager alone after they unseated Democratic incumbents in the 1985 Kean landslide.
Burzichelli ignited a fight that led to then-Gloucester County freeholder Steve Sweeney challenging Zane in the Democratic primary. Zane, more conservative that Sweeney in those days, liked his general election chances better. He switched parties, but Sweeney beat him by 1,735 votes, 52%-48%.
Two years ago, when Senate President Steve Sweeney and Salem County GOP chairman Fran Grenier combined to spend $18 million in a State Senate race largely driven by the New Jersey Education Association, Burzichelli won by 10,095 votes.
Taliaferro was elected to the Assembly in 2015 after Celeste Riley left to become Cumberland county clerk. Before that, he spent three years as a Gloucester County freeholder.