The victory of longtime Republican Party member Joseph Kasper over Democrat Paul Vallone for a judge post in the 3rd Municipal District Court was in many ways, similar to Republican truck driver Edward Durr defeating longtime Democrat New Jersey State Senate president Stephen Sweeney.
Four years earlier, Sweeney was easily reelected by an 18-point margin despite the teachers union spending over $4 million to defeat him. Durr spent less than $10,000 versus Sweeney’s $1,061,957.
Sweeney has served since 2002 and as president of the State Senate since January 2010. This provided him with 19 years of name recognition, all the perks of holding public office and all the pay-to-play special interest groups doing business in Trenton.
It was old-fashioned shoe leather going door to door evenings and weekends by Durr, who knocked on over 20,000 doors, that overcame the tremendous odds against him. Investing in some good walking shoes carried the day for Kasper, too.
Kasper beat a member of the Vallone family dynasty. Inheritance of a famous family name doesn’t always translate to entitlement for promotion to higher public office or a judgeship.
The lesson of Durr and Kasper is one all first-time underdog candidates could learn from.