GOP pollster Rick Shaftan used to be a troll on my Facebook page, posting vile and insulting right-wing nonsense so hateful I had to ban him.
So it comes as no surprise that he was fired as U.S. Senate candidate’s Steve Lonegan’s senior strategist after ranting in a Twitter exchange that it was weird that Lonegan’s opponent, Democrat Newark Mayor Cory Booker, wasn’t interested in sexting with a stripper (i.e. Booker must be gay, and gay people can’t be trusted).
Lonegan and Booker are running in a special Senate election in New Jersey to complete the late Senator Frank Lautenberg’s term.
It should also be noted that Lonegan and Shaftan are a match made in crazy neanderthal heaven. Lonegan’s campaign has been scrapped from the bottom of the barrel, utilizing racially-charged language and tea party demagoguery about social security and immigration to push forward a truly vacuous campaign with no new ideas. He even recruited the queen of hateful know-nothings – Sarah Palin – to make an appearance on his behalf. I wonder how many times “death panels” was muttered under their breaths.
None of this should come as any surprise to anyone who knows anything about Steve Lonegan. During both his runs for governor, he decried immigrant labor until it was revealed he employed undocumented workers at his home. This time around, he’s lambasted suburban tax dollars that get sucked away by urban areas like Newark, until it was revealed Longean ran to Jon “I lost $2 billion” Corzine while mayor of the tiny town of Bogota and secured a $500,000 bailout to balance the budget. I’m just waiting for the “I’m not a witch” commercial.
So for me, the race shouldn’t be about Lonegan. Despite news stories every decrying Booker’s performance and lovingly referring to knuckle-dragging Lonegan as a scrappy underdog (as opposed to the Koch brothers-financed, Americans for Prosperity-backed firebrand he is), Booker is going to win, and win big. What’s most interesting to me is the role someone on the ballot played – Chris Christie.
Christie, under pressure from Republicans after bear-hugging President Obama, endorsed Lonegan’s campaign, and vowed to stump for him. Considering the special election is on Wednesday, that leaves little time for Christie to keep to his word. It does but the governor in an awkward position on many issues, the most pressing being the ongoing debate in Washington over the government shutdown and the debate.
Christie, with eyes on a run for President in 2016, has taken a bipartisan approach, arguing that both sides should sit down and hammer out a deal. Meanwhile, Lonegan is urging Republicans to hold strong, saying in a debate he is “proud Republicans are finally standing up to this tyrant.”
What makes it all the more interesting is Christie doesn’t even like Lonegan. The two have has public spats going back years. Meanwhile, Christie and Booker have formed a working relationship based on mutual respect. Recently, Christie attended a ribbon-cutting for a major Newark development that Booker opened by saying, “I want to give some Guv love right now.”
So far, the press have ignored Christie’s endorsement of Lonegan completely, and I don’t blame them, with the hateful clown show they’ve been presented. But I think it’s time he’s held accountable for supporting such a vile and extreme candidate. At least ask Christie the question, “Do you regret your endorsement?”
Rob Tornoe is a political cartoonist and a WHYY contributor. Follow him on Twitter @RobTornoe, and check out more of his work at RobTornoe.com