Steve Sweeney was not ready for this. It seemed impossible that he could be beaten by anyone, let alone a neophyte like Ed Durr. But beaten he was, and now Sweeney has conceded.

Concession speeches are always tough to hear, even if you can’t stand the person who is making it. To watch a person who has suffered a staggering defeat have to stand up and pretend like he’s not feeling horrible about it always makes me uncomfortable, no matter who it is. But Sweeney’s concession feels even more bittersweet because he seems to have been completely blindsided by it.

Here is a guy who is, for all intents and purposes, now a career politician.

He’s the second-most powerful elected official in New Jersey and the longest-serving Senate president in the state’s history. Though he started out as an iron worker, the guy doesn’t even know anything else at this point. I’m sure it never occurred to him (or a lot of other Democrats in the Statehouse) that a stunning defeat like this could happen. Especially by a guy who ran a shoestring campaign.

And yet it did.

This was not any regular defeat. It was national news and it was a classic David versus Goliath scenario—a lesson in fortitude. And I am thrilled that a “common,” regular, everyday guy who truly represents the people will now be serving in our state legislature.

Still, the guy on the other end is standing there with the wind knocked out of him—more so than in most political defeat scenarios. This must’ve felt like a sucker punch to Steve Sweeney and probably embarrassing, to boot.

Humbly, he conceded in his speech, saying, “I, of course, accept the results. I want to congratulate Mr. Durr and wish him the best of luck.”

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi Franco’s own.

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