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."
Good luck selling another tea party candidate to the ppl Sarah Palin. With the shutdown we saw their ugly, we don't need more irresponsible children in any office from here on out. Hopefully those states that elected those tea parties will come to their senses and vote them out when their election days come. So glad California is Tea Party free
Caribou Barbie will have as much impact on the N.J. Senate race as one flea on a dawg. It might itch a tiny bit but it will not stop this dog from hunting. Palin is just a flea in the grand scene of things.
Nice one JustAGuess....you had me rolling with that comment 🙂
If Booker starts playing basketball he can swirl with Palin.
just another parasite that tries to live on my tax money but it gives me the assurance not to vote for
Oh- I feel different
Palin in NJ? I can see Ireland from my house!
YES! A Booker win is guaranteed! Bring on the Wicked Witch From Wasilla!!
America loves Sarah Palin! She will be our next president and she will deliver us from evil.
Sarah Palin is the most qualified individual to lead our country and the world. She would destroy Hillary Clinton in a debate hands down.
It's important that all people start sending donations to her to launch her campaign. I dont care if its your last dollar. Send it to her.
I was so sure this was a joke. It reads like one. Still unsure.
Doesn't this guy know what she did to McCain's White House bid...? He must be desperate.
After being the cause of the shutdown, If tea-bagpartiers get a single Senate or House seat in the next election I'll be shocked – and disappointed.
S A R A H, nice to see you back!
Palin can’t stand not being in front of cameras..
Palin is the GOP equivalent of the dems john Kerry – they are "you people must exist to provide me position"
Trickle up politicians.
Figures Palin would appear now - she is always a latecomer to the party, a sideshow designed to stir up the crazies. If Sarah is against Booker, I'd be FOR him, even if I knew nothing about him!
I just came for the comments. Big thank you to the entire thread for making my day 🙂
As a New Jerseyan and a Booker supporter, I was delighted to see Palin visited our state to stump for Lonegan. In 2008, Palin did John McCain untold damage here, pushing suburban voters who often vote Republican over to Obama. Palin's appearance with Lonegan only burnished his rightwing nut credentials, which were never in doubt.
Booker's far from perfect, but I have to laugh when Lonegan boosters deride him as a empty suit. The mayor of Bogota, NJ (pop 8,000) does have some provocative opinions, but that qualifies him to be a Fox News personality, not a Senator.
The very thought that we, in America, continue to allow people like Palin to even have a political voice in the media is very telling about the media itself as well as the general electorate of this country. All of these people seem to think that running the worlds largest economy is similar to running a lemonade stand, this is pathetic.
Now is she going to say she's good at foreign policy because she can see Nigeria from her house?
Did you hear that she had scribbled notes in the palm of her hand again? Maybe she wrote down at least one newspaper that she reads.... just in case someone asked the question...
I smell desperation... Palin in New Jersey helping to campaign against Booker. Republicans are delusional at best.
O good, throw a drowning man an anchor.
Barbara Bush said it best when she said that "Governor Palin should go back to Alaska . . . and stay there."
If the people of New Jersey have any sense at all then it is now a lock for Corey Booker. That idiot Palin is not going to get any votes that would not have already gone to the Republican.