October 13th, 2013
08:53 AM ET
9 years 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.

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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. Ken

    Not warring her wedding ring on this trip. Must be basketball season

    October 13, 2013 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  2. Tampa Tim

    Booker should drop out now. He has no chance going up against a Palin backed candidate. Sarah knows what the country needs; more gridlock and more republican induced economic crises.

    October 13, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  3. Tampa Tim

    Why do republicans insist on having unfunded wars, but refuse to pay for them?

    October 13, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  4. Cooler

    Oh, Sara... Couldn't just stay out of it....
    Without you help this guy would at least be no more that 15% behinds on the end.
    Now, he'll lose by a land slide...
    Thanks for your help!

    October 13, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  5. Dennis Freeman

    Now that's desparation

    October 13, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  6. jinx9to88

    Calls Sarah for help? That guy is really nuts.

    October 13, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  7. Howard's Daddy

    Now that's what we here in Jersey call, a death sentence. Bye Bye Lonegan, we hardly knew ye.

    October 13, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  8. Bessy

    I guess this guy can kiss his hopes goodbye. Anyone Sarah is pushing is a loser.

    October 13, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  9. Wake up People!

    And the circus begins...... Nothing like a little racial bigotry to stir things up. But Sarah better be careful because that's Jersey, not Alaska, Mississippi, Alabama or Texas. They may not receive her message well.

    October 13, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  10. jeebus loving bible humpers

    That would be like me bringing in Stephen Hawking to play QB for the Giants.

    October 13, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  11. Name carl

    If he needs Palin for help its all over for him.

    October 13, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  12. Peace

    Of all the people Sarah Palin campaigned for someone who is the Tea Party member!!! At this age we are in now, and in New Jersey the sitting room of Dems! Steve Lonegan must start writing his concession speech if he hasn't done so.

    October 13, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  13. O'drama Ya Mama

    Why does she matter??

    October 13, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  14. panzand

    Another mental midget in Washington is all we need at this point

    October 13, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  15. James P. Barber

    Lonegan must be struggling with ED. Sarah knows how to help. She'll have him straightened out in no time. NJ needs another christian burlesque show to entertain them.

    October 13, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  16. freedom

    Everything she said on the campaign trail for VP has come true. People allowed the media to brainwash them about her. She's the real deal – loves this country, speaks the truth, and she's absolutely beautiful – inside and out. Too much for some people to handle...

    October 13, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  17. Drew

    Palin's support is actually considered a benefit? In Mississippi maybe, not in New Jersey.

    October 13, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  18. Steve

    I thought she lived in Alaska? She doesn't even know the 'what exit number' joke.

    October 13, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    like that'll help, especially in NJ. hahaha

    October 13, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  20. Bob

    Good God if she is in NJ who is watching Russia?

    October 13, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  21. Michael

    Desparation. Lot's of Republicans will experience it. Mwahaha.

    October 13, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  22. Ken

    If Steve Lonegan plan is to win, he should have had Palin endorse Corey Booker. Palin and her Tea Party have a few valid issues, but they have become a destructive influence in our government.

    October 13, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  23. Robert

    Just another wart on the body politic which needs to be excised.

    October 13, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  24. H K

    LOL! Oh man this made a smile on my face. Lonegan might as well just publicly state "I'm a moron. I'll demonstrate by making a huge mistake."

    October 13, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  25. justAnNJGuy

    I'm a registered republican in New Jersey and there is no way I can vote for Lonegan. I will definitely be casting my vote for Booker.

    October 13, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
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