October 13th, 2013
08:53 AM ET
12 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. Stephan

    Ummmmm, let's see........She outright abandoned her post as governor of Alaska to get into the limelight as a potential VP candidate. She used unauthorized monies to purchase clothes, take trips, buy gifts for herself and her family as the VP candidate. Many believe, including those closest to the campaign, that she was/is mentally unstable and only in the race for her own ego and grandstanding and had several "meltdowns". She referred to her own child as a "retard". I guess she feels she has been forgotten and needs to revive herself and start wearing that same black dress and campaigning!

    October 14, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  2. Alina1

    What is Palin will be "hateful " for on Thanksgiving?

    October 14, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  3. pkrbkr03

    Sarah, just go away.....far, far away! No one cares what you do, never did, never will!

    October 14, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  4. John

    If I'm a Democrat running for office, can I bring Palin in to campaign FOR my Republican opponent??? ;-)

    October 14, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  5. hey

    Didn't work for McCain, wont work for him.

    October 14, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  6. maf

    People, this is what makes America great! These two have shown that the First Amendment is alive and well. They have freedom of speech and to peaceably assemble to petition the government for redress of grievances.
    That stated, the First Amendment also allows anyone to freely state in public and for all to hear exactly how stupid they really are. These two have proven to me that there might just have to be some sort of intelligence test administered to candidates for public office. It seems that Mr. Lonegan showed poor judgment in allowing former Governor Palin to speak on his behalf. After all look at the dazzling performance she displayed while campaigning with Senator McCain for the White House!
    Good luck Mr. Booker.

    October 14, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  7. Big_D

    Captain Carpetbagger with her trunk full of hate ads just landed in New Jersey. Time to see how many stupid people in New Jersey can be frightened out of voting for the local hero so they can support a Koch puppet.

    October 14, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  8. myrtlemaylee

    So in my former home a GOP quitter who writes on her hand is the go-to help for one losing candidate. And in my current home the Duggar family bus will be touring for another GOP losing candidate. If you can't win based on merit, bring in the entertainment.

    October 14, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  9. Michael in Houston

    Getting a bit round in the face there Palin. You are starting to look like Linda Tripp

    October 14, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  10. Big_D

    New Jersey will have to look past the guy who saves people from burning buildings and support the guys who polluted towns out of existence. I wish we could make the big money and lies of the GOP illegal. It is sad how bought the GOP is and how lacking of any real morals they are.

    October 14, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  11. happynurse

    go back to alaska...

    October 14, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  12. Wow

    I am assuming that people remember watching the Katie Couric interview.

    October 14, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  13. anthony

    Wow, maybe you should ask Michelle Bachmann for help next!!

    October 14, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  14. BobJustBob

    Sarah Palin's bizarre ideology isn't so remarkable. Even an individual who embraces her ideology isn't so remarkable. But when two or more individuals embrace it, it's remarkable.

    October 14, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  15. Brad

    "Palin jumps into N.J. Senate race "

    I'd say hopped in, because she always has at least one foot in her mouth.

    October 14, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  16. me

    Hey, look folks... I've brought in Sarah Palin to encourage you to vote for me! You remember Sarah don't you? You know she's the politician who single-handedly cost Republicans the 2008 White House race, then quit on her constituents the following year so she could rake in millions for herself... Shows just how smart this guy is... Sarah will only get you the crazy vote which you likely already have...

    October 14, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  17. Bob Head

    So the fact that Booker LIED about his residency in NJ, doesn't matter? YOU people are always going to be YOU people until truth counts again.

    October 14, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  18. Pam from Iowa

    Poor guy just lost the election!!!!!!

    October 14, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  19. Hogan's Goat

    Who will she blame when Booker wipes the floor with this guy? Oh yeah, liberal media and socialism. Yeah, whatever Sarah. How's that shuttin' down the gubmint workin' out for ya, quitter?

    October 14, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  20. Eddie

    Brings a whole new meaning to celebrity. Why doesn't this woman just go away.

    October 14, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  21. rr

    Sarah, if you are reading this, please keep campaigning. You are doing the country a great service. Keep up the good work and don't listen to critics. After all, you have a great record of not getting people elected, including yourself. So I say, please push forward with your messages. The people are listening. The people are listening.

    October 14, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  22. Rich

    Why do conservatives give a damn about Palin? All she's accomplished in life is to win a beauty pageant, win a job she quit before she was done, and then fail at being elected V.P. That doesn't really speak at all to her as any kind of authority.

    October 14, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  23. Rich

    Why do conservatives care about what Palin thinks? All she's accomplished in life is to win a beauty pageant, win a job she quit before she was done, and then fail at being elected V.P. That doesn't really speak at all to her as any kind of authority.

    October 14, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  24. NgauHuPhart

    How pathetic, that a candidates stoops to such depths, and surrenders early. Bullwinkle Barbie is the kiss of death, and underscores the Tea Party's lack of intellect.

    October 14, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  25. EldRick

    That ought to guarantee that he loses.

    October 14, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
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