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Salem County Commissioner Mickey Ostrum. (Photo: Mickey Ostrum).

Ostrum says he’ll take on Durr in GOP Senate primary

Salem County commissioner expected to run with Beth Sawyer, with McCarthy Patrick siding with Durr

By David Wildstein, February 10 2023 12:53 pm

Salem County Commissioner Mickey Ostrum has decided to challenge State Sen. Edward Durr (R-Logan) in the Republican primary.

“We’re going forward.  It’s still in the early stages,” Ostrum told the New Jersey  Globe.  “I want to talk about my qualifications and experience.  I want to do the best for our constituents.”

Ostrum is likely to run with Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer (R-Woolwich) and former Harrison Township Committeeman Adam Wingate.   Assemblywoman Bethanne McCarthy Patrick (R-Mannington) is expected to run with Durr.

Durr has increasingly faced problems within the Republican party since taking office last year, and a primary challenge has been expected.

A truck driver who raised little money, Durr became an instant celebrity in 2021 when he ousted Senate President Steve Sweeney, the longest-serving legislative leader in state history.   Sweeney has not decided if he wants to return to the Senate as he prepares to seek the Democratic nomination for governor in 2025.

The sixteen Republicans in the State Senate today issued a joint statement urging no primary challenges against incumbents so that the GOP may focus on flipping five Democratic seats in a limited path to a majority.

One of the senators who signed the statement was Michael Testa, Jr. (R-Vineland),  the Cumberland County GOP chairman.

But while Testa may be backing incumbents, his hands could be tied if Ostrum defeats Durr at the Cumberland Republican convention next month.

A 71-year-old obstetrician and gynecologist, Ostrum entered politics in 2018 when he defeated incumbent Freeholder Melissa DeCastro.  DeCastro had been a Republican who switched parties after the 2017 election to flip control of the freeholder board to the Democrats in a deal with Sweeney.

Wingate, 32, is a former minor league hockey player who came within 2,504 votes of winning a Gloucester County Commissioner race last year.

Sawyer and McCarthy Patrick defeated two incumbent assemblymen, John Burzichelli (D-Paulsboro) and Adam Taliaferro (D-Woolwich), in 2021.

Ostrum won re-election in 2021 by a 2-1 margin, outpolling Durr by over 1,000 votes in Salem County.

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