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

Salem county commissioner might challenge Durr in GOP primary

Dr. Mickey Ostrum will decide soon if he will take on Ed the Trucker

By David Wildstein, February 04 2023 3:48 pm

Popular two-term Salem County Commissioner Mickey Ostrum is mulling a challenge to State Sen. Ed Durr (R-Logan) in the Republican primary.

Ostrum told the New Jersey Globe that he would make a final decision “over the next week to ten days.”

“I’m giving some thought to it,” Ostrum said.  “I haven’t made a decision for sure.  It’s not an easy decision.

If he decides to run, a possible ticket might include Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer (R-Woolwich) and former Harrison Township Committeeman Adam Wingate in the 3rd legislative district, the New Jersey Globe has learned.

Wingate confirmed his intent to run on that slate if Ostrum decides to become a candidate.

“That’s my plan,” he said.

A truck driver who raised little money, Durr made national news when he ousted Senate President Steve Sweeney, the longest-serving legislative leader in state history, in 2021.  Sawyer and Assemblywoman Bethanne McCarthy Patrick (R-Mannington) defeated incumbents John Burzichelli (D-Paulsboro) and Adam Taliaferro (D-Woolwich) that year.

Durr and Sawyer have not gotten along since taking office last year.

McCarthy Patrick, who has just $1,660 cash-on-hand, would run with Durr.

Candidates would have to compete for organizational endorsements in Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem counties.   The Salem convention is set for March 18.

Sweeney has stated his intention to run for governor in 2025 but has yet to say if he will seek a return to the Senate this year.  Democratic powerbroker George Norcross wants him to run, but sources close to Sweeney say he remains undecided.   A poll was recently in the field on Sweeney’s behalf.

Ostrum, 71, is an obstetrician and gynecologist who 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.

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

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

Durr still needs to file his fourth-quarter fundraising report, due on January 17, but he had $33,704 banked after the first three quarters of 2022.  Sawyer has $32,469 in her campaign fund.

POLITICO reported last month that East Greenwich Mayor Dale Archer was also considering a primary challenge to Durr.

If Ostrum runs and wins the Senate seat, he’d be the first state senator from Salem County since Democrat John Waddington lost his bid for a fourth term in 1967.

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