October 13th, 2013
08:53 AM ET
10 months ago

Palin campaigns for N.J. Senate hopeful

New Egypt, New Jersey (CNN) – What does a candidate do if he's down in the polls, days from the election, and his opponent is a political celebrity?

Answer: Bring in his own celebrity.

That's what Senate hopeful Steve Lonegan did this weekend, just days before he faces off against Democratic nominee and Newark Mayor Cory Booker in New Jersey's special U.S. Senate election on Wednesday.

His wild card? Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

"Can the rest of America count on you to send Steve Lonegan to the United States Senate?" Palin asked the crowd Saturday at a rally for Lonegan in Ocean County. It was her first appearance at a tea party rally in more than a year, when she stumped for Ted Cruz in Texas in July 2012.

Lonegan, former mayor of Bogota, faces an uphill battle against Booker, a man well known on the national stage.

"Don't be measuring the drapes there just quite yet," Palin said in a warning to Booker.

Palin and Lonegan paint the race as a national referendum on President Barack Obama's policies, including Obamacare.

"When we go to Washington on October 17 (the day after the special election), it's going to be Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid that are going to fold," Lonegan said at the rally.

Thanks in part to Lonegan's aggressive ad campaign, Booker's 28-percentage-point lead in August dipped to 12 points, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released last week.

That's not surprising to some voters in New Jersey, a state where Democrats greatly outnumber Republicans.

"There are a lot of people in the state that have conservative values and just don't know it," one woman, Alexandra Zazanis of North Arlington, said at the rally.

But another voter said he's not quite on board with Lonegan's policies.

"I'm a Republican, but I think Lonegan's a little bit too far to the right," Dave Munn said.

Krista Jenkins, Director of Public Mind At Farleigh Dickenson University, acknowledge that Lonegan has narrowed his gap with Booker, but added the Republican is still a longshot for the Senate seat.

"We're looking at a very blue state there's approximately 700,000 more registered Democrats than there are Republicans," she said. "So anyone who runs, with the exception of Chris Christie right now, anyone who runs as a Republican, you know, for the Senate is certainly going to have a more difficult time than somebody who's a Democrat."

And because Lonegan is a "movement conservative," not a moderate Republican, his uphill fight is "much steeper" the Garden State, she said.

Lonegan is against abortion rights and same-sex marriage, but his views on Booker seem to be getting all the attention. Lonegan fired one of his top advisers, Rick Shaftan, Friday after that adviser gave a profanity-laced interview, ridiculing Booker for having a Twitter exchange with a stripper.

"I don't know, it was like what a gay guy would say to a stripper," the adviser said.

Lonegan said he can't be responsible for what one of his supporters says.

"I have hundreds of activists, volunteers, donors, people on this campaign and I can't be responsible for what all of them say, but I will take responsibility – so I terminated the gentleman for his inappropriate comment," he told CNN.

Lonegan was criticized for his own comments about Booker after the Newark mayor addressed questions about whether he was gay.

"People who think I'm gay, some part of me thinks it's wonderful," Booker told The Washington Post. "Because I want to challenge people on their homophobia. I love seeing on Twitter when someone says I'm gay, and I say, 'So what does it matter if I am? So be it. I hope you are not voting for me because you are making the presumption that I'm straight.'"

Lonegan weighed in on Booker's comments during an August radio interview.

"It's kind of weird. As a guy, I personally like being a guy," he said.

Then there was the comment that Lonegan made during last week's debate: "All that income tax and sales tax money gets poured into the big black hole of Newark."

After facing some backlash from critics saying his remark was racist, Lonegan said Saturday, "the liberal media is going to say what they want to say."

"Newark's budget is a big black hole," he continued. "And it sucks in millions and billions of suburban taxpayer dollars and we never see it again, period."


Filed under: 2013 • Cory Booker • New Jersey • Sarah Palin • Senate • Steve Lonegan
soundoff (309 Responses)
  1. Darwin

    PALIN failed to solve any of Alaska's problems because SHE QUIT. And ironically, if it wasn't for all the GOVERNMENT JOBS, DISABILITY PAYMENTS, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION, and WELFARE in Alaska, half the population would be DEAD BROKE!

    October 14, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  2. People

    Sarah Palin is the 'Honey Boo Boo' of politics.

    October 14, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  3. Gary D.

    Yeah, there's a logical choice...bring in Sarah Palin to clinch the deal for ya! LOL

    October 14, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  4. W.G.

    Please keep helping him Ms. Palin and also could you help the next republican pres. candidate also ???
    Pretty please ???

    October 14, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  5. Anonymous

    But up in Alaska.......Go away...And take Hillary, all of Congress, and Obama with you....

    October 14, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  6. James

    Yeah, using her worked out great for McCain. I think what's really sad is that there are people who go to listen to her. Someone send in Katie Couric, or heck, a High School grad could probably ask simple questions and confuse her.

    October 14, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  7. FB for Christie???

    Someone threw the drowning Republican an anchor!!!

    October 14, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  8. Tom

    I've never felt sorry for New Jersey before.

    October 14, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  9. Anonymous

    If I were a New Jersey voter that would seal it you brig in the Village Idiot to campaign for you, you lose my vote.

    October 14, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  10. Badly-Bent

    "I can see the Badda Bing from my hotel!"

    October 14, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  11. Badly-Bent

    What tea-party?

    October 14, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  12. Ralph_in_FL

    Hopefully, she will deliver her usual kiss of death.

    October 14, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  13. Mike

    WHY would anyone in their right mind want Sarah Palin speaking for them? Sorry – I answered my own question.

    October 14, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  14. mjd

    I guess bringing in Palin is less painful than shooting yourself in the foot. Or maybe not.

    October 14, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  15. FB for Christie???

    Steve Lonegan must be writing notes to himself ...

    "Remember, next time I pray for help from God ... I must be more specific. I must ask for something to help me WIN ... not ask for something to help me save America."

    October 14, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  16. BDR

    Sarah Palin's running for governor of N.J.,(who is that guy she's with...?)
    Much like with McCain it's hard to remember who the actual candidate is,when you put someone as polarizing as her in front of the camera on your behalf it only provides her with a stage at your expense.
    I don't see how it helps him that she brings so much negative baggage to a rally as she commandeers his audience-apparently this man feels he needs and is ready to accept tea party assistance.

    October 14, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  17. Cal Bob

    Palin , John McCain's legacy .

    October 14, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  18. Chris

    Have to agree with "idiot Palin is not going to get any votes that would not have already gone to the Republican". If anything Palin will scare off some independants to the Booker camp. Dumb move by Lonegan to bring her in.

    October 14, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  19. Alan

    Sarah Palin is the best friend the Democrats could have. Listen to her talk for a few minutes, and the voters head to the Democrat side of the ballot.

    October 14, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  20. Vince

    In Jersey? LOL. He just lost the race. Palin doesn't poll well in Jersey.

    October 14, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  21. Hiruu

    Nice way to ensure your loss buddy!

    October 14, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  22. Cliff Williams

    I thought you said Palin was no longer a factor in American politics???

    October 14, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  23. Linda

    Bring it on Sarah.

    October 14, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  24. BOB

    This person PALIN is probab;y the dumbest person in politics. The only ones that could be dumber are the people who put up their money to support her. She is living on these persons money abd laughing at them.

    October 14, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  25. Fish

    I hope Christie beats this guy like a rug!!! Palin is showing what hypocrites the reckless right truly is by turning on Christie whose only "crime" was to embrace the President for helping his state!!! Damn Palin should do what she does best, QUIT!!!

    October 14, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
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