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New Jersey Primary Election Day kicks off as incumbent GOP Sen. Ed Durr looks to be re-elected

A Republican state senator in New Jersey is fighting to hold on to the nomination after his surprise victory in 2021 ousted the Senate president. On the other side of the aisle, two long-time Democratic state senators are vying against each other for another chance to represent their party in the state Legislature.

It’s Primary Election Day on Tuesday, when polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m., although it’s not the only day ballots will be cast. In-person voting was held over the weekend and mail-in ballots have been available to voters who prefer them for weeks.

New Jersey has no statewide races on the ballot this year, however both chambers of the Democrat-led Legislature are up for grabs in the November election.

Democrats have a 46-34 advantage in the Assembly and a 25-15 margin in the Senate, but control won’t be decided until November. This year’s primary stands out because there’s only a handful of contested races.

In southern New Jersey, incumbent Republican Sen. Ed Durr is facing a challenge from incumbent GOP Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer in the 3rd Legislative District.

Durr had worked as a furniture delivery truck driver when he shocked the state by defeating Steve Sweeney, the Senate president.

At the time Sawyer, a real estate broker, was his running mate. In New Jersey, candidates from the same party typically run on a joint ticket in their district, even if they’re seeking different seats. As a team they swept the Democrats who held the Senate seat and two Assembly seats, helping the GOP net seven seats.

In northern New Jersey, a Democratic contest in the 27th Legislative District has captured some attention, with Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy weighing in.

Incumbent senators Dick Codey and Nia Gill are competing to lengthen their already decadeslong political careers.

Gill has been in the Senate since 2002. She was a long-shot candidate for Senate president after Sweeney was ousted, but lost to Sen. Nicholas Scutari, a fellow Democrat.

Codey, who served as governor from November 2004 until January 2006, has been in the state Senate since 1982. Their primary contest comes after redistricting left Gill’s hometown inside the district currently held by Codey.

Endorsing Codey, Murphy called him a ‘hardworking and dedicated’ public servant.’ Murphy didn’t mention Gill although the two have agreed on legislation previously, including bills to tighten the state’s gun laws.

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