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. mklsgl

    Booker wins in a landslide. Lonegan is a knuckle-dragging neanderthal.

    October 14, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  2. ART

    Well Mr Lonegan just sealed his fate, I guess a drowning man will grab at a straw. Don't get me wrong no insult to a piece of straw, I know a piece of straw is smarter than Palin

    October 14, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  3. Wall Wolf

    Calling in Sarah Palin in equivalent to calling in Bozo the Clown for credibility. Surely the American people don't have that short term of a memory.

    October 14, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  4. Vader

    Oh look! The Palin clown car has pulled up!

    October 14, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  5. Wall Wolf

    What does Ted Cruz and Miley Cyrus have in common? Right!

    October 14, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  6. thenitenurse

    That must be a bad photo because I see some bad veneers. Anyway Palin is never going to run for anything again. The Press uncovered her secret and that is she is not very bright not presidential material. She makes tons of money doing speaking engagements and running for president would be too much strain on that little brain.

    October 14, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  7. tammyleg

    Suuuuure...that's the way to doom your campaign...get this nutcase woman involved. She has got to be the most disliked, unrespected person in the country. Sorry Sarah...nice try...but you're still irrelevant and a joke.

    October 14, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  8. leapfrog

    Look at those eyes...those insane "Helter Skelter" eyes...

    October 14, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  9. Ed F.

    She would do anything for a paycheck.

    October 14, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  10. Carol

    Palin's presence always adds a new low to any event. The Tea Party only listens to themselves and represent the dumbing down of this country. That is why they like Palin.

    October 14, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  11. marv

    Lonegan just got the kiss of death from the black widow. Hand over the election now and save time and money.

    October 14, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  12. Leigh

    Sarah, go back to Alaska and hunt some moose, please. We in NJ will never elect a far-right Teaparty terrorist for the senate, another of which is the LAST thing this country needs in Washington.

    October 14, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  13. Momma G

    Really? She was able to find NJ on a map?

    October 14, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  14. brian

    Nothing but a sex-appeal charade to lure in undecided 50-somethings. Wake me up when they are serious.

    October 14, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  15. Ken in MO

    This is a sure sign that Lonegan is in trouble. She is scary stupid. She is perhaps the most dimwitted politician in modern history. She could not even finish her term as governor and knows only slightly less than my dog about national or international affairs.

    October 14, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  16. Rich Townes

    Didn't someone tell Palin she is a zero? She made a fool of herself on the national stage over and over and she thinks she still means something? Maybe to a bear or elk...leave the Lower 48 and go home..oh wait...you can't go home, YOU QUIT BEING GOVERNOR!!! Now that is something to be proud of...a quiter!!!!

    October 14, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  17. Carol

    The term “Death Panels” has been associated with Sarah Palin since the summer she resigned as Governor of Alaska. It was August 7, 2009 that she posted her famous Facebook “death panel” remark. That post came only 11 days after she stepped down as Governor of Alaska, and less than one month after it was announced that under her watch as Governor, hundreds of people were allowed to die due to lack of the most basic of needs. It was July 14, 2009 that the Anchorage Daily News published it’s article reporting that the State of Alaska, while Palin was Governor, was “unresponsive” to the needs of its elderly patients dependant on Medicare & Medicaid and the lack of controls enforced by the State “has resulted in deaths” The problem under the leadership of Sarah Palin was that when costs soared, the state of Alaska, hired its own nurses to determine “who needed how much care.”

    The Alaskan program supervised by Palin was supposed to help disabled and elderly Alaskans with daily life, to provide the most basic of services including taking a bath, eating dinner, and getting to the bathroom. A federal review of the program in Alaska determined that during a 2 ½ year stretch, while Palin was Governor, that 227 adults died while waiting for a nurse to re-consider their needs, and another 27 died while waiting for anyone to assess if they had any needs. Thus there were no “Death Panels” in Sarah Palin’s Alaska, deciding who should live or die. There were just people dying without even a board to consider if they were an appropriate candidate for death.

    October 14, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  18. TJC

    Maybe some of you don't like Booker, but you have to question Lonegan's judgement if he thinks Palin represents his values and if he thinks Palin is the best way to encourage a liberal leaning state to vote Republican. This poor judgement would only add to the gridlock in Washington. But fortunately the same poor judgement will probably prevent him from being elected.

    October 14, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  19. Uthor

    Probably the last thing a serious candidate should do is bring her in to campaign. There go the independents. Only a small, staunch set of folks think she's a factor in anything these days.

    October 14, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  20. Dr. Tom

    Wow!! Who better to represent the good people of New Jersey than a cookie-bakin' moose-shootin' salmon-guttin' maverick from the boonies of Alaska, yah hey? Nothin' like good ol' grassroots tea partyin' goin' on here, ya know!

    I say we just give her a microphone and let her start fielding questions directly from the voters. That ought to bring this nonsense to an early end. No greater change of derailing whack-o-doodles than letting them shoot themselves in the foot.

    October 14, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  21. wendel

    well that should ensure a win for Booker. Really Palin? What are the repos thinking?

    October 14, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  22. caw

    What exactly did the candidate expect from this? Most independents think Palin is a joke so her 'endorsement' is only going to work on those who were going to vote GOP anyway.

    October 14, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  23. Charles

    One things for sure, Cory Booker is now locked in, thanks to Sarah for campaigning for Steve Lonegan. What a loser.

    October 14, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  24. Let's Be clear

    Who even knew this broad was still around?

    October 14, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  25. whatever

    Snow Snookie visits her city cousins in NJ. How fun! Maybe they can paint each others toe nails and stay up all night telling stories about their favorite tanning beds. Then they can pretend to use some big words in actual sentences. Totally fun, liike, y'know!

    October 14, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
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