With substantial wins over their opponents in Tuesday's primary, the victorious Republican and Democrat candidates will face each other in a special October 16 election to fill the seat held by New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg, who died in June. Polls show that the Democrat, Cory Booker, should win in a walk. But to hear Republican candidate Steve Lonegan (shown in photo) tell about it, the race could be close. Lonegan is taking no prisoners.
In his victory speech, Lonegan called Booker the candidate “anointed by Hollywood” in direct reference to funding that Booker is receiving from Hollywood types including Oprah Winfrey and “Desperate Housewives” star Eva Longoria. Booker is, according to Lonegan, the top choice of “Silicon Valley moguls” like Mark Zuckerberg who just promised to give $100 million to set up a foundation to help Newark’s public schools. Lonegan said that they want to make him “California’s third U.S. senator.”
Lonegan has a lot of baggage going into the sprint: He built a modest record as a tax-cutter while mayor of Bogota, New Jersey, a town of just 8,000, during his 12 years there. He ran for Congress in 1998 but came up short, and ran for governor in 2005 and then again in 2009, falling short both times then as well. He’s had his share of controversies, including asking an outdoor advertising company to remove a McDonald’s ad in Spanish from a local billboard. He was arrested while protesting at a town hall meeting scheduled by Governor Jon Corzine in 2008. He dissembled when he failed to disclose fully his compensation in his campaign filings that he received from Americans for Prosperity while serving as state director.
None of this appeared to matter as Lonegan opened with his broadside against Booker:
[My campaign is] absolutely going to be different. This is going to be the clearest line-in-the-sand election between a conservative and left-wing liberal the state has ever seen.
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Photo of Steve Lonegan: AP Images