Last night, Democrat Cory Booker won New Jersey’s special Senate election over Republican Steve Lonegan.
Booker won 713,594 votes and 54.6 percent; Lonegan won 579,388 votes and 44.3 percent.
Turnout was low for several reasons, most notably that it’s a special election held in October, and the election was held on a Wednesday. A “normal” November Senate election in New Jersey gets about 2 million votes, and in a presidential-election year it can reach around 3 million votes.
Republicans looking for a silver lining can note that Lonegan’s share of the vote tied the best performance for a GOP Senate candidate since 2000. In 2012, Joseph Kyrillos had 39.37 percent; in 2008, Dick Zimmer had 42.5 percent; in 2006, Thomas Kean Jr. also had 44.3 percent; in 2002, Doug Forrester had 43.95 percent; and in 2000, Bob Franks had 47.1 percent.
Booker’s drug-dealer friend “T-Bone” could not be reached for comment.
Today is NOT Election Day in New Jersey; apparently the GOP sent out an erroneous Tweet Monday afternoon suggesting it was. Cue the cries of “voter suppression,” when it is in fact just New Jersey being New Jersey — it’s such a “special” special Senate election that it can’t even be held on a Tuesday.
In all likelihood, Cory Booker will win. One poll released Monday had Booker up 52 percent to 42 percent over Steve Lonegan; another one had him up 58 percent to 36 percent. Turnout should be pretty darn low.
BookerFAIL takes the tale of the vacant property and puts together a devastating video on the “absentee landlord, absentee mayor”:
Lonegan’s closing argument has focused on the idea that Booker doesn’t actually live in the city.
In a press conference outside the Hawthorne Avenue residence where a Booker spokesman said the mayor has rented an apartment, Lonegan alleged that news stories and residents’ accounts indicate that Booker does not live in Newark.
“Who is Cory Booker?” Lonegan said. “Can you trust him? Where is he from? Where does he live? I propose that he doesn’t even live in Newark.”
A few weeks ago, Booker moved from the Hawthorne Avenue residence to a Longworth Street house that he owns, according to Griffis. His rent is paid through the end of the month, but he no longer lives on Hawthorne Avenue, Griffis said.
The Newark Police Department has rented a separate apartment in the Hawthorne Avenue house to use in its protection of the mayor, Police Director Samuel DeMaio said in a statement.
“There have been numerous threats on the mayor’s safety during the last seven years,” DeMaio said. “The mayor’s apartment on Hawthorne Avenue was located in a building with multiple units. The mayor rented a unit and the police department rented a separate unit to use in their protection of the mayor.”
Booker told the New York Times in March that he “kept very little” of the millions of dollars in speaking fees he has raked in over the past several years. “After Uncle Sam takes his share and after I’ve given away hundreds and hundreds of thousands, I’ve kept very little of it, if any,” he said.
The Newark Star-Ledgernotes that Booker has earned $1.3 million on the speaking circuit since 1998, when he first took office, with the majority of that income coming in 2011 and 2012. According toPolitico’s Maggie Haberman, however, Booker “gave about $150,000 total to charity over 14 years.”
That fact makes it tough to square the mayor’s claim that he has given away “hundreds and hundreds of thousands” of dollars of the money he’s made in speaking fees — after taxes. The only way for his claim to be true is if Booker indeed gave away several hundred thousands of dollars this year; that information will appear on his 2014 tax returns. Even that, though, would stretch the truth, as Booker claimed in March of this year — in the past tense — that he had already given away the money, presumably in years past.
As Eliana summed it up:
It’s astonishing that Booker is now 15 years into his political career, and, largely through anecdotes we are now coming to see are full of holes, has amassed dozens of high-profile backers in Silicon Valley and around the country who fell in love with his “story.” Thanks also in part to these emotional anecdotes, he is now and set to become the junior senator from New Jersey. Maybe one of these days a prominent national political reporter will ask him about what increasingly looks like his troubled relationship with the truth.
So if you know somebody in New Jersey . . . give ‘em a call today. Remind that person Wednesday is Election Day, and offer a thought or two about the Cory Booker that doesn’t get featured on the late-night shows.
Steve Lonegan, the Republican nominee in New Jersey’s special election for the United States Senate, spent yesterday and today emphasizing his opposition to intervention in Syria.
“While there has been much tragedy, the war in Syria is not simply between the Syrian government and the Syrian rebels,” Lonegan said in a statement. “We must work with our allies to provide humanitarian aid to those affected by the war, but punitive actions in Syria will not deliver stability to the region.”
Yesterday, Lonegan held a press conference with Montvale, N.J., councilman Mike Ghassali and Archbishop Cyril Aphrem Karim of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, urging President Obama to resist the temptation to take military action in Syria, and calling on Senator Bob Menendez, New Jersey’s Democratic senator, to reverse his position. Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called for missile strikes and declared, “time is of the essence.”
Lonegan said: “The President should not intervene militarily without the consent of Congress. And given the facts we have today, I would vote against sending American men and women into Syria as a member of the United States Senate.” (Any U.S. military action in Syria is not likely to put American men and women in uniform directly into Syria; any attack is expected to rely on Tomahawk cruise missiles and other long-range weapons, fired from ships and submarines in the Mediterranean Sea.)
In a chat with the Huffington Post on August 28, Booker said, “My posture on Syria is that we should not be going to war. We should not be unleashing missiles.”
Cory Booker’s oft-mentioned friend, “T-Bone,” could not be reached for comment.
A Republican endorsing another Republican would not ordinarily be news. But some might be slightly surprised to see New Jersey governor Chris Christie — who has done everything short of formally announcing he’ll run for president in 2016 — endorse Republican Senate candidate Steve Lonegan tomorrow. Lonegan was his rival from the 2009 gubernatorial primary, and Lonegan’s campaign staffers boldly predicted Christie would falter against then-governor Jon Corzine.
Fairly or not, many conservative Republicans have seen Christie as the second coming of Jon Huntsman since his embrace of President Obama in the closing weeks of the 2012 presidential campaign, a narrative enhanced by Christie’s criticism of House Republicans and the media’s eagerness to reuse a familiar narrative of celebrating a “moderate” Republican standing up to those terrible right-wing extremists. Refusing to endorse his own party’s Senate nominee — in a race where the outcome of a Cory Booker victory will be extremely hard to prevent — would be a bridge too far. What’s more, taking a side in the Lonegan-Booker race isn’t likely to cost Christie that many votes in the gubernatorial election.
Christie will endorse Lonegan at the Hunterdon County GOP headquarters tomorrow at 4 p.m.
UPDATE: Brandon White looks at the potential make-up of the electorate for the October special Senate election and concludes:
There’s no way to know for certain, but with a popular African American heading up the marquee battle on October 16, and with no one but Steve Lonegan to motivate Republicans to the polls, it seems entirely possible that the special senate race electorate could look as Democratic-friendly as the one from 2012.
Credit where it’s due: Yesterday in New Jersey’s primary elections, Republican Steve Lonegan received more votes statewide (102,481) than the Democrats’ second-place finisher Frank Pallone (69,311) and third-place finisher Rush Holt (59,922).
Of course, Newark mayor/media superstar/Silicon Valley schmoozer Cory Booker ran away with the Democratic primary with 207,891 votes and is an extremely heavy favorite for the October 16 general election.
But Lonegan can do some good for his causes, even if he doesn’t win the general election. Almost from the moment he became mayor in 2006, Booker rode a wave of glowing media coverage that emphasized small but vivid gestures (“He shovels the city sidewalks himself!” “He rescued a neighbor in a burning building!”) and largely overlooked the fact that Newark’s economy and quality of life largely remain the same. Stories of his failure to disclose certain legally required financial agreements broke too late to impact the primary; Booker broke a loud public pledge and his media fans shrugged. He’s been anointed the next Democratic-party superstar; he appears on Morning Joe almost as often as Scarborough and Mika; he’s appeared on the Tonight Show, Oprah’s show, etc.
A signficant reason that Barack Obama was able to generate the messianic coverage he enjoyed in 2007 and 2008 was the fact that A) he didn’t face a competitive opponent in his 2004 Senate race, meaning he coasted into office with 70 percent of the vote, and B) no one had done significant opposition research or poked holes in his heroic narrative. Republicans cannot afford to give the Democrats’ rising stars free passes to statewide office.
Lonegan is highly unlikely to win. But he can make sure the state — and the nation — know how modest Booker’s record as mayor really is.
Today is the primary election for New Jersey’s special U.S. Senate election, prompted by the death of Senator Frank Lautenberg. On the Republican side, Steve Lonegan and Alieta Eck are competing, with Lonegan favored.
On the Democratic side, Newark mayor Cory Booker is heavily favored against Representative Rush Holt, Representative Frank Pallone, and state-assembly speaker Sheila Oliver.
Polls opened at 6 a.m., and are open until 8 p.m.
UPDATE: For the reader contending that Romney voters have no right to demand any candidate release his tax returns, a reminder: