Cory Booker and Steve Lonegan win Senate primary races in N.J.

(AP) Cory Booker, who won the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in New Jersey, promises to bring people together to solve problems in Washington.

The Newark mayor easily beat three opponents to win Tuesday’s party primary to fill the final 15 months of the term of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

Booker told supporters in Newark that it’s an honor to be the party’s nominee to succeed Lautenberg, who he called “a true champion” of the citizens he represented.

A rising star in the national Democratic Party, he promised not to play by the same old rules if sent to Washington.

His Republican opponent, Steve Lonegan, wasted no time in blasting Booker as beholden to Hollywood and Silicon Valley.

New Jersey voters haven’t elected a Republican to the Senate in 42 years.


posted 9:39 p.m.

(AP) Steve Lonegan promises that after winning the Republican Senate primary in New Jersey, he’ll also prevail in the general election two months from now.

The former mayor of Bogota handily won the primary Tuesday for his party’s nomination to fill the final 15 months of the term of the late Frank Lautenberg.

In his acceptance speech in Secaucus, he blasted the Democratic nominee, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, as beholden to special interests, including Hollywood and Silicon Valley.

Lonegan says Booker has been anointed by Hollywood.

He told his supporters, “I am beholden to no one.”

The general election is Oct. 16.


posted 8:59 p.m.

(AP) A rising star in the Democratic Party and a Republican former mayor won their parties’ primaries on Tuesday to set up a campaign of political and stylistic contrasts as they seek to fill the final 15 months of the term of the late U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker defeated three experienced politicians—U.S. Reps. Rush Holt and Frank Pallone, who had the support of Lautenberg’s family, and state Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver—in a Democratic primary that may have been more competitive had the field been less crowded. The race was a major draw for them partly because of New Jersey’s history of electing only Democrats to the Senate over the past 40 years.

In the Republican primary, former Bogota mayor Steve Lonegan won handily over Franklin Township physician Alieta Eck, who had never run for office before, even though she received support of some tea party organizations.

The election is on a compressed schedule. The day after Lautenberg’s death, Republican Gov. Chris Christie scheduled the primaries for Tuesday and a special election for Oct. 16, 20 days before the voting day on which he’s seeking re-election. The move drew criticism, with some opponents saying Christie was spending $12 million on an extra election so he could avoid being on the same ballot as Booker, a claim Christie denies.

Booker ran with the support of New Jersey’s Democratic establishment and celebrities from across the country. Oprah Winfrey joined him at a fundraiser, and Eva Longoria campaigned with him.

Booker is famous in the political world for his life story and his social media fanaticism: He has 1.4 million followers on Twitter, which he uses to field complaints about local issues such as sinkholes and to dispense inspirational quotes.

He grew up in suburban Harrington Park, the son of some of the first black IBM executives, played football at Stanford, won a Rhodes scholarship, received a law degree from Yale, then moved into one of the toughest parts of Newark in an effort to revive the state’s largest city.

He is in his second term as mayor. In the city, reviews are mixed, but his narrative has helped make him well-known elsewhere. And he’s leveraged that power to help bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in grant money for the city, including a $100 million pledge from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. He’s also given 90 paid speeches across the country since 2008, collecting $1.3 million, nearly half of which he has donated to charity.

Lonegan, who stepped down from his job as state director of the anti-tax group Americans for Prosperity, focused his primary campaign on blasting Booker. He held one news conference to ridicule Booker’s broad anti-childhood poverty plan and another at the scene of a homicide in Newark to question whether Booker has done much to reduce crime. He’s also been to the New York headquarters of Waywire, a technology startup Booker co-founded, to criticize his role in it.

For Booker, the new opponent means needing to gird himself for attacks from the right after spending an abbreviated primary campaign being criticized from the left by opponents. In debates, Booker found himself defending working with Christie, explaining that he disagrees with the governor “90 percent of the time” and promoting his conciliatory image. He also reaffirmed his support for using taxpayer money to send children to private schools, one of the few policy prescriptions on which he and Lonegan agree.

Lonegan is a familiar voice in New Jersey politics, blunt and conservative. He ran in and lost gubernatorial primaries in 2005 and 2009. He was a leader of successful opposition to ballot measures that would have raised a state sales tax and funded stem-cell research.

Like Booker, he grew up in suburban Bergen County, in Ridgefield Park, and played college football, at William Paterson.

Both candidates also became better known through a pair of documentaries released in 2005. “Anytown, U.S.A.” looked at Lonegan’s fiery re-election campaign in Bogota; “Street Fight” chronicled Booker’s first, and losing, run for mayor of Newark.


posted 8:44 p.m.

The Associated Press declares Cory Booker the winner.

(AP) Newark, NJ, Mayor Cory Booker wins Democratic primary in special US Senate election.


posted 8:42 p.m.

Republican Steve Lonegan has won his party’s nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in New Jersey.

(AP) The former Bogota mayor easily defeated Franklin Township physician Alieta Eck in Tuesday’s primary.

Lonegan resigned from his job as New Jersey director of the anti-tax group Americans for Prosperity to run. He twice sought his party’s nomination for governor but lost both primaries. He has had success at leading campaigns to defeat statewide referendums, such as one to fund open-space preservation.

Lonegan moves to the Oct. 16 special election to fill the final 15 months of the Senate term of Democrat Frank Lautenberg, who died in June.

The Democratic primary featured Newark Mayor Cory Booker, two congressmen and the state Assembly speaker.

Critics say Republican Gov. Chris Christie scheduled the primaries and special election to avoid being on the same November ballot as Booker. Christie denies that.



posted 8:11 p.m.

Where the parties are

The polls have closed in New Jersey in the special Primary election that will help decide who will finish the term of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg’s term.  

The candidates have released their election night party locations. 

Steven Lonegan (Republican)La Quinta Inn & Suites, 350 Lighting Way, Secaucus.

Alieta Eck (Republican)595 Weston Canal Rd. Franklin Twp. 

Cory Booker (Democrat)Outside of Newark’s Prudential Center Arena

Rush Holt (Democrat)Nassau Inn, 10 Palmer Square, Princeton.

Frank Pallone (Democrat)McLoone’s Pier House, 1 Ocean Ave., Long Branch.

Sheila Oliver (Democrat)570 Broad Street 15th Floor07102 Newark, NJ



posted 7:37 p.m.

Booker campaign planning big event

by Katie Colaneri

A large stage (photos in slideshow) is set up at the Cory Booker camp in downtown Newark. The stage, draped with an American flag, is flanked by the Prudential Center – home to the New Jersey Devils hockey team – and a restaurant and condo project spearheaded by the Booker administration. Local streets are closed off and there’s a buzz of activity with police controlling traffic and volunteers returning from canvassing the streets.


posted 6:56 p.m.

Are the Republicans trying to lose?

Former New Jersey Senator Robert Toricelli said the Republicans are missing the best opportunity to win a Senate seat.

Speaking tonight on NJ Today with Mike Schneider, Toricelli eluded that the Republican Party didn’t offer voters their strongest candidates because, as he put it, “They are assuming they can’t (win).’

Interviewer Mike Schneider then asked “If I read you correctly you’re saying Republicans could have put up a stronger candidate?”

Toricelli said “If I had been (Joe) Kyrillos or Tom Kean Jr. I would have run in this race.”

Toricelli, a Democrat, said the the state is bluer (more Democrats) now but that a special election like this distorts the voter turnout model. “When people have voted in August, you already set in fatigue. You are asking them to come out again in another month. Knowing that there is a General Election in November. It will distort the profile of who is voting. I believe the Republicans have made an enormous mistake.



Posted 5:33 p.m.

The true believers

A steady flow of dedicated voters showed up this afternoon at the Lawrenceville fire station just off Route 206. About every two minutes another car would pull up with someone determined to cast their vote.

Terry Del Casale said he was debating whether to bother to come out. “I wasn’t sure I was going to vote today. But I decided there is a light turnout, I’m very close, I live right up the street, so there is no excuse,” he said.

Today is a primary election. Both the state Democrat and Republican parties are chosing one candidate each to represent them in the a special Oct 16 election.

Democrats will choose from:

Cory BookerRush HoltSheila OliverFrank Pallone

Republicans will chose from:

Alieta EckSteve Lonegan

This special election to fill the final year of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg’s seat was called for by Governor Chris Christie. Many people have criticized him for creating a special election when it could have been folded into the regular General Election on November 5.

Blanche Brand said she resented having to come out for this special election. “This was a complete waste of money and it is only because Chris Christie (a Republican) didn’t want a solid D column running against him. Christie is running for re-election and faces Democrat Barbara Buono in November.”


Posted 11:02 a.m.

Low turnout expected

Low turnout was expected Tuesday as New Jersey voters decide which candidates will run to fill the seat of the late U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died in June.

Democrat Cory Booker and Republican Steve Lonegan are expected to easily win their party primaries. Barring an upset, the two will square off in an Oct. 16 special election, with the winner headed to Washington for the remaining 15 months of Lautenberg’s term.

Turnout is expected to be exceptionally low in this unprecedented mid-August election, with many voters on vacation and heavy rain falling.

Turnout seemed on the mind of Booker as he voted blocks from his home Tuesday morning. “This is New Jersey. You’ve got to earn every single vote you get, and so polls don’t vote, people do,” said the 44-year-old, who is serving his second term as mayor of Newark, the state’s largest city. He is better known and has raised more money than three challengers, all of whom are experienced politicians but not well-known outside the areas they represent. Polls show Booker far outpacing U.S. Reps. Frank Pallone and Rush Holt and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver.

The final days of the campaign had Booker touring the state by bus. Actress Eva Longoria was among those campaigning with him; earlier, Oprah Winfrey held a private fundraiser for him in Jersey City.

Lonegan, 57, voted with his wife Tuesday morning in the Bergen County municipality of Bogota, where he once served as mayor and until recently was the state director of the anti-tax group Americans for Prosperity. He ran unsuccessfully for governor twice and for Congress once and has a built-in donor network from the conservative group.

His only opponent is a political neophyte, Franklin Township physician Alieta Eck, who has never held or campaigned for elected office.

Gov. Chris Christie set the dates for the special election after Lautenberg died at age 89. Lautenberg had been a reliably liberal vote in the Senate and was its oldest member.

Pallone was endorsed by Lautenberg’s family as the candidate best able to carry on the senator’s legacy as an advocate for mass transportation and the environment. Holt was endorsed by the National Organization for Women, though it was Oliver who staked her campaign on her gender. She said New Jersey needs at least one female representative in Washington.

The state’s two senators and 12 representatives are all men.


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