October 13th, 2013
08:53 AM ET
11 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. Anonymous

    The only thing Palin has going for her is her looks. Otherwise, she's simply not smart.

    October 14, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  2. GH

    I still recall something Palin said in an episode of her old reality show - something to the effect of "why would I wanna be around those stuffy types in Washington? I'd rather be out here [in Alaska] bein' free." (I'd rather she'd be out there too, so the rest of us could be free of HER.) Just goes to show how much she enjoys the limelight, without having to campaign for it. Do I sound hateful? Well, hate is as hate gets, and these hateful people (Palin, Lonegan, et al.) get my hate right back.

    October 14, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  3. Jack M

    If that's your definition of a celebrity, I pity you.

    October 14, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  4. Big_D

    It's the GOP circus. They come to town with the big show and end the end all you have left is a big mess from the elephants who pooped all over your district. That and they bring their own carnies that steal everything they can while they are there.

    October 14, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  5. Raj

    You know you have hit the bottom if Palin is a savior. She could not save her campaign. She may be popular with the Tea Party terrorist, but she is not at all popular with the middle of the ground independent and republicans. Getting her involved is a guaranteed loss. GOP hopefully will learn that the Tea Party is definitely not the way to go if you want to gain seats in senate.

    October 14, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  6. Don Sporns

    So Palin has "star power". Who knew.

    October 14, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  7. Lawless4U

    Keep it up republicans. Keep pouring millions into races you have zero chance of winning.

    I love it.

    October 14, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Bringing Palin in to speak for him now, with the vehemence people feel about her political kind? Is Lonegan going for a negative number in the vote tally?

    October 14, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  9. Observer

    Maybe this will turn out as Palin said the day before she and McCain lost and God's will will be done.

    October 14, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  10. NFL

    And those Big Red states are the tax payer sucking vaccuum, but they still rally and vote NOT to have Federal taxes enough to pay for what they take from the Blue states...until now. Finally, some of the states are realizing they need the Feds to pay for things that draw tourists (like National Parks), and complain now that they have to pay for it themselves! Tell your reps to get the Government OPEN again!

    October 14, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  11. Strangways

    Palin couldn't even find New Jersey on a map. She should go back and take care of baby Trig, or Trap or Tap...

    October 14, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  12. SoSad

    Booker will win and they will cry foul? No big thing, that woman should back to Alaska. McCain its your fault!

    October 14, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  13. Hogan's Goat

    Palin: "Hey voters, I've been wrong about every single thing so far, so here's my recommendation for what's his name. No candidate would be better for the job than Lone Gan, and if you are going to vote more than once, make sure one of those votes is for Lone Gan. Hey, look at the time." (walks offstage)

    October 14, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  14. KBNJ

    I went to the rally – nice crowd. Regarding the article, though, since when is calling something a 'black hole' racist?!?! Wow, Conservatives can't say ANYTHING without being called racist. Kind of makes you wonder who the REAL bigot are, doesn't it? BTW, there were some very nice black folks at the rally. I shouldn't feel the need to say that. But that's the Tea Party bashers' fault, not mine.

    October 14, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  15. Me There

    Truly embarrassing that she was almost VP. Brainless Americans who get blinded by a flag.

    October 14, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  16. Brainiac3397

    Why can't she just go back to Alaska...and stay there. I don't care if she runs for the Alaskan senate, or becomes Alaska's governor yet again. Anywhere outside of the Contiguous US is fine.

    Her status as "celebrity" long expired.

    October 14, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  17. Jessica Blackthorne

    that woman is the Miley Cyrus of politics. She's just NUTS and seems to like the notoriety.

    October 14, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  18. ben

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

    Who would be listening to this woman???

    October 14, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  19. littljohnny

    She's not a celebrity.

    October 14, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  20. Appleannie

    Sarah Palin is not a bright star, she is a black hole. Black holes are vacuums and have no substance. That describes her from the neck up to a TEE. She is the last resort of losers when they are in their death throes.

    October 14, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  21. HillClimber

    I really think that we had finally banished Palin. Just like a bad penny, she keeps popping up. Is there rational reason for that? I think not. Please Sarah, can't you spare America from further embarrassment by just going away? Couldn't you do it just so that John McCain can save what little face he still has? America needs good leadership, smart leadership, all with wisdom, foresight, and the ability to carry that out. Sorry, Sarah, you just don't qualify.

    October 14, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  22. Mary

    Palin? The "governor" who walked out on her constituents? Wow; how and why is she even relevant?

    October 14, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  23. Joe

    Big mistake, Palin is a religious extremist nut case. She is the reason I could not vote for McCain back in 2008, just too risky having her one heart beat from the presidency. Unfortunately, now we have a socialist administration that is purposely trying to destroy the country.

    October 14, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  24. bobpitt

    @Anonymous :

    She is not that good looking, actually she is on dull side.. so she has nothing going, plus she is too old to be a sex symbol..
    and dumb as a bunny.. (sorry bunnies)

    October 14, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  25. littletingod2013

    Just more Tea Party morons being fed their own dung and scarfing it down like chocolate.

    October 14, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
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