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. raceresq

    Please! Shes been outta the spotlight for at least 15 minutes, showed up in DC to "rally" vets at the Memorial...
    send her back up north where the know nothing belongs. Lonegan might have had a chance before, but now, she's poisoned the deal.....

    October 14, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  2. Peter

    Why on earth would anyone think Palin appearing or recommending them would *help* a candidate?

    October 14, 2013 08:58 am at 8:58 am |

    Anybody who votes for a Democrat need to get their head examined. Democrats are evil and should never hold office

    October 14, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  4. McDoud

    Couldn't make the grade as a senator in Alaska?

    October 14, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  5. luvUamerica

    So, Lonegan decided to sign up with the Tea Party anarchists...

    October 14, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  6. Tbone85

    I must admit that Palin might influence my vote if she came to campaign for a local politician that I'm voting for. However, unless the Democrats were secretly paying for her stopping by, I somehow don't think it would be the influence intended.

    October 14, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  7. zaphed

    she will see new york from her house.

    October 14, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  8. Seriously...

    Wow, they may fall for her stupidity in Alaska but I have a feeling that NJ voters are a little more aware of what's going on around them...Good Luck, Steve!!.... btw: Palin was at a Teaparty Rally in DC this past weekend– they were protesting the shutdown of the War Memorial–which was shut down by none other than the ...Teaparty!! Palin and her guest speakers called on Obama to give up his Koran... yes, the Teapartiers are both educated and classy....hmmmm , i don't think so .... hey Sarah–is your husband still trying to get Alaska to seceed from the Union? If so, pease do it on behalf on Sanity and Thoughtfulness....

    October 14, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  9. Justin

    Saying state and local races are referendums on the President is like saying "Buy peanut butter if you love your mom!!!!"
    You are NOT voting out a President by voting for a certain person for Governor, Senator, or dog catcher. Cries of something being a "referendum" on something else is a sure sign of desperation, no matter what party says it.

    October 14, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  10. GSMITH

    Palin is a great Republican and a great American. Obama is a disgusting person who should never have been elected President. He only won because he got the uneducated vote that is the problem with this Country.

    October 14, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  11. mark scott

    Palin, do for NJ what you did for Texas. Give them at chance to help this country out of the worse disaster of a presidet since Jimmy Carter.

    October 14, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  12. JR

    Bring in his own celebrity? Bring in what? She's a POS. Period. A phony, scumbag, money seeking, whore. WTF. This was supposed to be a news story??

    October 14, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  13. CLEpost

    The last act of a desparate man. You betcha!

    October 14, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  14. Jim in PA

    I love how CNN is so predictably bad that it is now possible to know a headline is fake BEFORE even reading the article. Obviously Palin did not, can not, and will not "jump into" the NJ senate race, the wording of which suggests she is joining the race as a candidate. I laughed out loud and said "fake!" before I even clicked on this CNN click-bait. Pathetic as usual.

    October 14, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  15. I can see Russia from my House!

    Ladies and gentlemen, Start your clown car engines!!!! Get your Sharpee markers ready!!!!!


    October 14, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  16. thedude

    Must be pretty desperate if you think this train wreck would help your campaign.

    October 14, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  17. Tim

    Poor Steve. With Sarah's "assistance," he's now SURE to lose.......

    October 14, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  18. Reza

    I doubt if there is any other person out there hated more than Palin is hated.

    October 14, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  19. Lance Pearson

    This should guarantee the opponent a win! Help from Alaskan cheap white trash with no brains will sure give the opponent a boost. Would have been better if he'd hired 500 strippers and put on a show. Intellectually, who would ever believe anything out of Palin's shallow mouth? Politics has sunk to new lows when she's involved.

    October 14, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  20. erik

    Republicans are jumping the shark.

    October 14, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  21. Brian

    "There are a lot of people in the state that have conservative values and just don't know it,"

    Typical Tea Tard statement. They don't know what they're talking about nor arguing about, not even knowing what exactly they want. But they know they're right.

    I think that can be classified as ignorance. Palin's just there to flush the hate vote out from the shadows.

    October 14, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  22. birdman jr

    Palin used to be the kiss of death. Now she is just a slightly fatter kiss of death.

    October 14, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  23. Pat

    Who really cares about Palin anymore?

    October 14, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  24. allenwoll

    Jumps ? ? - "Slithers" would be a more descriptive and accurate term ! ! !
    Where, when and HOW did Sarah degrade into "Sarah" ? ? . Parents beware ! ! !

    October 14, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  25. Jared

    There's always another way to set the bar lower. Now, if we can just get Bachmann to speak, it'll be a full round house kick to NJ.

    October 14, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
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