Steve Lonegan Comes Across As Extremist Jerk In Final NJ Debate

Steve Lonegan Comes Across As Extremist Jerk In Final NJ Debate
Oct 10, 2013
Posted by Keith Brekhus

Newark’s Democratic mayor Cory Booker and former NJ state director of Americans for Prosperity, Steve Lonegan, traded rhetorical barbs in their final Senate debate at Rowan University on Wednesday. As the campaign enters its final week before the October 16th special election, Steve Lonegan ratcheted up his heated rhetoric in the hopes of narrowing Booker’s lead. The latest Quinnipiac Poll released yesterday has Booker up 53-41, but that is way down from the 54-29 advantage Booker had two months ago, raising concerns that Lonegan has turned the race into an unexpectedly tight contest that could become a toss up by Election Day.

In the debate, Lonegan raised eyebrows by giving Congress a B grade and by stating that he admires Texas Senator Ted Cruz. In addition, he doubled down on his far right views by acknowledging that he would have opposed federal aid for Superstorm Sandy relief unless it was offset by other spending cuts, despite the fact that New Jersey was ravaged by the storm.

However, Lonegan’s most controversial comment of the night came when he was expressing opposition to environmental regulations and he said to Booker “you may not be able to swim in that river, but it’s probably, I think, because of all the bodies floating around from shooting victims in your city.” Booker was aghast and exclaimed “Oh, my God. Oh, my God” in response. Although Lonegan has persistently tried to make Newark’s murder rate a campaign issue, the city’s homicide rate is lower than it was when Booker first took office in 2006.

Lonegan also engaged in dog whistle politics when he argued that too much of New Jersey’s income and sales tax money goes to Booker’s city of Newark where it “gets poured into a big black hole”. Newark is majority African-American and while Lonegan will probably argue that referring to it as a “big black hole” has nothing to do with race, his campaign has a history of racial insensitivity. As a “joke” his staff at one point in the campaign tweeted mock foreign policy debate notes for Booker that showed different parts of Newark labeled as West Africa, Guyana, and the Middle East. Clearly the Tea Party fueled campaign has a thinly concealed disdain for racial minorities. In this context, Lonegan’s “big black hole” comment may be an attempt to capitalize on racial animosity to equate Newark’s perceived crime problem as a sign that Booker, who is also black, would therefore be a dangerous choice for Senate.

In the hostile debate, Lonegan demonstrated a lack of class and a far right agenda that is not in line with the voters of New Jersey. He would be a disaster for the state as a Senator and he would be an ally of Ted Cruz and the other Tea Party nihilists who infect the current Congress. During the debate Cory Booker remarked that sending Lonegan “to Washington would be like pouring gasoline on a fire”. On Tuesday, New Jersey voters should soundly reject Steve Lonegan’s incendiary rhetoric and his scorched earth politics, and instead elect to send Cory Booker to the US Senate.

Edited/Published by: SB

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