Home>Campaigns>Ostrum drops GOP Senate primary against Durr

Senator Edward Durr at Gov. Phil Murphy's fiscal year 2023 budget address delivered on March 8, 2022. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe).

Ostrum drops GOP Senate primary against Durr

Salem County Commissioner will not file nominating petitions to take on freshman South Jersey legislator

By David Wildstein, March 16 2023 10:29 am

Mickey Ostrum is ending his challenge to State Sen. Ed Durr (R-Logan) after losing all three Republican party conventions, allowing the truck driver-turned-lawmaker to avoid a primary fight and focus on keeping his seat in the November mid-term election.

“I had entered this foray to give the people a choice.  While it never got to the general public, the three counties in the district chose to endorse someone else,” Ostrum told the New Jersey Globe.  “Those making the decision did pick me, and I’m ok with that.”

A physician and two-term Salem County Commissioner, Ostrum had been urged to run by a faction of South Jersey Republicans who wanted to replace Durr on the ticket.  But that group needed to convince party leaders in Gloucester, Cumberland, and Salem counties to dump Durr.

On Saturday, Durr defeated Ostrum at the Salem GOP convention by 12 votes, an 18-point margin.

Durr said he spoke with Ostrum on Monday and got the feeling he wouldn’t run.

For Durr, there are no hard feelings over the short-lived challenge.

“I understand his desire to get involved, and I told him always to feel free to call me,” he said.  “I have no anger or animosity.  I’m just very happy I was chosen the counties.”

Durr is expected to face Democrat John Burzichelli (D-Paulsboro), who served 20 years in the State Assembly before losing re-election in 2021 in a stunning upset that led to Durr ousting Senate President Steve Sweeney, the longest-serving legislative leader in state history.

The 3rd legislative district became more Republican after legislative apportionment.  President Donald Trump carried the new district by three percentage points in 2020, and Republican Jack Ciattarelli won it by sixteen points against Gov. Phil Murphy in 2021

Ostrum’s exit leaves first-term Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer (R-Woolwich) without a Senate candidate to head her ticket if she seeks a second term.  Durr has teamed up with two Assembly candidates, incumbent Bethanne McCarthy Patrick (R-Mannington) and Hopewell Township Committeeman Tom Tedesco.  McCarthy Patrick and Tedesco also won all three conventions.

South Jersey Democrats quickly turned to Burzichelli, the former chairman of the Assembly Appropriations Committee, after Sweeney decided against a rematch with Durr.

Durr is unintimidated by Burzichelli, a strong vote-getter, until he got swept out of office in the last election’s South Jersey red wave.

“Burzichelli has 20 years of bad votes, and I plan to use them,” the Republican senator said.  “He voted to take your guns away.  He voted for higher taxes.  Murphy’s budgets all have John Burzichelli’s hands on them.”

Burzichelli faces a primary challenge from Mario DeSantis, a music teacher who received 23% of the vote when he took on Rep. Donald Norcross (D-Camden in the 2022 primary.

The filing deadline is March 27.

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