By David Cruz
As part of what he’s calling his “Exposing Cory Booker Tour,” U.S. Senate candidate Steve Lonegan stopped in front of a spec home he’s building in Teaneck, boasting that he is a bona fide job creator, having run several small businesses, as opposed to the man he expects to be running against in the October general election.
“Cory Booker has called for the federal government to spend the whopping sum of $1.6 billion to create what he calls government–run manufacturing innovation centers,” Lonegan said, referring to Booker’s plan for publicly-funded manufacturing incubators. “That’s his economic plan.”
Seeing his challenger — Alieta Eck — as no challenger at all, Lonegan did not mention her once today, until a reporter asked him about why he wouldn’t participate in a League of Women Voters debate.
“The League of Women Voters — they claim to be non-partisan — but is pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-progressive tax,” he said. “On every issue across the board, they’re on the opposite side, and I have always had a history of refusing debates by an organization that is not non-partisan.”
Eck seemed unconcerned with debating Lonegan. She told NJTV that voters are already pretty familiar with him.
“He’s run several times and he’s lost,” she noted, “so for some reasons voters chose someone else, and perhaps they’ll do so again this time.”
But getting back to Booker, Lonegan is not alone in targeting the mayor of the state’s largest city. In fact, Eck called Newark “the Detroit of New Jersey.” Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver has criticized Booker’s celebrity status and his record in Newark; and a super PAC calling itself the “American Commitment Action Fund” has released a new online ad juxtaposing Booker’s upbeat campaign commercial with headlines about violence and crime there.
Booker’s campaign has also been defending itself against charges made in published reports that campaign staffers were unhappy with how they were being treated. It could all seem like a bad week for Booker unless you take into account the report that he’s raised another $2 million for his race this past month. Rather than apologizing for his public exposure, Booker bragged about it last week.
“My economic development team was complaining to me that we have so many ribbon-cuttings and ground-breakings that we could do one every single day in the month,” he said. “This is not a testimony to my leadership or a reaction to any outside events. It’s the reality of the city of Newark. We are a city on the move.”
Booker has been laying low the last few days but that has done nothing to detract from his status as frontrunner and the one candidate in this race that all the other candidates can’t seem to stop talking about.