By. Staff/Courier Post
There a few things Americans of all political persuasion can agree on: There’s too much debt and not enough jobs; the liberties we cherish are under attack and there are too many loopholes for those who want to scam the system. Reasonable people can disagree on how to fix our nation’s problems. But not every candidate is willing to listen to those with whom he disagrees.
That’s why we endorse Newark Mayor Cory Booker to fill the U.S. Senate seat long held by Frank Lautenberg, who died in June.
New Jerseyans face a stark choice on Oct. 16 — and yes, the special election will be on a Wednesday, rather than a Tuesday. If you know your own mind and political persuasion, there should be no contest.
Booker supports abortion rights, gun control and same-sex marriage — all mainstream positions among Democrats. Still, Lonegan calls him an extremist.
In fact, Booker is hardly the left-wing radical his opponent would have you believe. He’s chummy with Wall Street and has been one of the loudest proponents of charter schools and vouchers. He questions America’s dependence on foreign oil, is skeptical of Iran’s recent overtures and vociferously defends Israel.
Steve Lonegan opposes a woman’s right to choose, held a fundraiser where supporters could shoot a .50-caliber Barrett semiautomatic sniper rifle and doesn’t think the government has any business issuing marriage licenses. (He’d leave it up to churches.) Booker sees Lonegan’s views as extreme, and in solid-blue New Jersey, they are.
Some of Lonegan’s ideas — abolishing the Fed, flattening taxes, turning whole neighborhoods of Camden into forests — have traction among a certain sliver of voters. Trouble is, they’re the same people who have been holding the government hostage for almost a week in an effort to derail the Affordable Care Act. New Jersey does have a smattering of tea partyers, but that stuff really plays better in redder parts of the country.
Both candidates have, at times, have been more intent on courting a national audience than in speaking to Garden State voters.
n recent weeks, Booker has played hard to get with reporters while finding plenty of opportunities to raise funds with the help of celebrity fans like Matt Damon and Oprah Winfrey. For his part, Lonegan, has touted full-throated endorsements from right-wing superstars Sarah Palin, Rand Paul and Rick Perry while receiving only modest support from GOP leaders closer to home.
Sadly, the out-of-state influence is unlikely to change. New Jersey is an expensive battleground and whoever wins next week will have to start raising big bucks immediately. This contest is, after all, to serve the last year of Lautenberg’s term, and the winner will presumably seek a full six-year term next November. That gives the winner little time to build a record in the Senate before he has to run on those accomplishments.
Given Washington’s massive dysfunction, those accomplishments could be meager or monumental.
When all is said and done, the campaign trail is of less interest than what the winner does once in office. After all, these men aren’t vying in a mere popularity contest. But it is vital for voters to elect a candidate who can play well with others.
It’s high time lawmakers get back to the jobs we pay them to do. Once the government shutdown ends — as it must — there will be much to do.
Voters need to send more reasonable people to Washington. Let’s start with Booker.