Campaign ads hit Booker from all sides in U.S. Senate race

 Cory Booker in a recent Spanish-language campaign ad.

Cory Booker in a recent Spanish-language campaign ad.

There are six candidates running for New Jersey’s open U.S. Senate seat, but one has a big bull’s eye on him.  

The candidates are all taking their shots at front-runner Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark.

“Cory Booker’s Newark record: Debt up 57 percent, taxes up three times the cost of living,” according to an ad from Republican candidate Steve Lonegan, the former mayor of Bogota, N.J.

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, a fellow Democrat, is taking this tack: “New Jersey needs a guy who drives a Chevy, let the other guys take a limo.”

Even U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, another Democrat is focusing on Booker.

“I’m going to beat Cory Booker and win this campaign the same way I beat Watson on ‘Jeopardy!’, one answer at a time,” says one of Holt’s ads.

Professor Brigid Harrison of Montclair State University says the candidates from both parties are taking shots at Booker because they don’t have much name recognition.

“The candidates that are launching these attacks don’t actually have legitimacy in the voters’ eyes, especially against someone who is relatively well known and has relatively high popularity,” Harrison said.

Harrison says, at this point, the election is Booker’s to lose. And she doesn’t see much chance of that happening.

Registered Democrats and Republicans will cast primary votes to select the two candidates who will face off in the Oct. 16 special election. Also in the running are Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, a Democrat, and Republican Dr. Alieta Eck.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.