Steve Lonegan, the former mayor of Bogota, New Jersey, is the leading contender to capture the Republican nomination for the remaining 15 months of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg seat. If he wins the nomination, his probable opponent is Newark Mayor Cory Booker. Besides Gov. Chris Christie, Booker is the most prominent and popular elected official in the state. Lonegan’s chance of defeating Booker make him the darkest of the dark horses.
Lonegan is more conservative than most New Jersey politicians. Although Christie praised Lonegan recently, he didn’t endorse him.
Lonegan made a campaign stop in Camden, where he blasted anti-poverty programs developed from the Great Society plans of Lyndon Johnson. Lonegan criticized how the programs have stifled self-initiative.
“What’s happened is that individual responsibility and individual initiative has been replaced with reliance on government on a scale we’ve never seen before,” Lonegan said. “We have seen generations of families over the last 40 years that have been indoctrinated into the welfare state and have become reliant on government rather than their own initiative.”
At the campaign event, several reporters covered Lonegan’s speech. However, the crowd was sparse, very sparse. Lonegan thanked his supporters for coming. However, the AP reporter who covered the story noticed that other than the media the only people at the event where Lonegan’s staffers.
Any hopes the GOP had of taking this seat are close to nil. A recent poll has Booker crushing Lonegan 53% to 30%. Combining that with the poor organizational skills of his staff, which couldn’t field a single supporter, and the lack of enthusiasm that Lonegan generates, 30% might be close to the high water mark in his support.