GOP surprise: Lonegan gaining on Booker in New Jersey Senate race
Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 5:42PM
Kay B. Day, Editor in Cory Booker, Crime, Democrats, GOP, N.J. Senate race, Newark crime, Newark property appraisals, Obama, Sen. Rand Paul, Special Elections, Steve Lonegan

GOP Senatorial candidate Steve Lonegan of New Jersey (Photo: Frame grab/video at Lonegan campaign site)Steve Lonegan, the New Jersey Republican running in a special election for a U.S. Senate seat, is narrowing the gap between himself and his opponent. Considering Lonegan's opponent's coffers and celeb support, the Republican's gains have sent shock waves throughout some political circles who consider New Jersey the property of Democrats.

Lonegan served as mayor of Bogota for 12 years, and according to his campaign, he “cut municipal spending, eliminated wasteful and duplicative services, privatized some functions and instituted a more cost-efficient, user-friendly government.” He also said he kept debt and tax increases far below inflation “despite massive state mandates and aid reductions to suburban towns like Bogota.”

In contrast, some property owners in Mayor Cory Booker’s city of Newark are upset with appraisals on commercial properties, and they are apparently questioning declared increases in value amid a struggling national economy the Obama administration has failed to to right. The Newark page at Patch said:

“Small businesses in the Ironbound have seen their property valuations rise by as much as 100 percent or more after Appraisal Systems Inc., a company hired by the city government, inspected properties throughout Newark early this year.”

A 100 percent increase in taxes could be devastating to a small business owner.

Lonegan has a small business background as well as years of public service.

Lonegan has something else to his credit—a past dustup with now scandalized former Jersey governor Jon Corzine, a Democrat who was a major bundler for Obama.

You’d think more attention nationally would focus on the New Jersey Senate race, the seat having been vacated by a Democrat, the late Frank Lautenberg. Instead, most of the attention has gone to the Hollywood-connected Booker.

What Lonegan lacks is the celebrity political class. Booker counts among his political groupies Oprah Winfrey and Eva Longoria. Both women who worked hard for Obama are pop-culture figures for “progressive” women, and both celebs also have the media clout to gain attention for their candidates. Oprah has a number of homes and one is reportedly in New Jersey, but her primary residence is in California. We were not able to definitively pinpoint where Longoria, a lesser celeb than the talk show diva, lives now.

Democrats appear to be drawn to candidates on the basis of looks and glitz. Booker knows how to capitalize on photo ops for good deeds, and his bio lists all sorts of amazements including rescuing a dog and saving a woman from a house fire. The sheer number of alleged rescues and do-good actions beg the question of how Booker has time to manage one of the largest cities in New Jersey.

Meanwhile, Booker has drawn criticism for a crime rate that fell briefly when he first came to office but is again rising steadily. Compared to the rest of the state, Booker’s city has a high or very high crime rating on City Data.

As the race got underway, Lonegan’s stats weren’t looking too well, based on some minor polls, but now things are looking much better as the October 16 election date approaches.

When it comes to glitz and glam, Booker, like Obama and numerous other Democrats, has the advantage of show biz, most legacy media and an almost mind-numbing mindset among New Jersey citizens who select the party not the candidate at the polls.

These are trying times, however, and judging by Democrats’ national performance, independent New Jersey voters may just dare to think outside the donkey corral and consider voting for Lonegan, a candidate described as a “work horse not a show horse.”

The GOP may not be willing to go out on a limb for this race, but the party should rethink that position. Without celebrity glams and media massage, Lautenberg has sliced the Dem’s lead significantly.

I seem to recall a certain Florida candidate entering a U.S. Senate race against a celeb-type governor who was double digits ahead in the polls. Sen. Marco Rubio only gained support from party elders after he proved his mettle and gained in the polls due to sheer grassroots momentum. Rubio has since written  his way into history. Given even some modest resources, Lonegan might do the same.

A gain in Republican seats in the U.S. Senate would add some balance to a body whose majority leader, Nevada Democrat Harry Reid, has been extremely rigid in his ideology, forcing political battles rather than working to reduce government waste, fraud and unnecessary spending.

Lonegan has received the endorsement of popular Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky.

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Sept. 26, 2013)

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Update on Friday, September 27, 2013 at 10:43AM by Registered CommenterKay B. Day, Editor
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