Dem candidates for U.S. Senate seat seek wider recognition in N.J.

With just five weeks until the special primary election, most of the Democrats running for a U.S. Senate seat from New Jersey are still struggling to build statewide name recognition.

Polls show Newark Mayor Cory Booker maintains a substantial lead over his challengers.

Many voters say they don’t know much about Congressmen Frank Pallone and Rush Holt or Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver.

Fairleigh Dickinson political science professor Peter Woolley says that will be difficult for the candidates to overcome by the Aug. 13 primary.

“Summertime is probably the worst time for a politician to have to be out on the street or try to communicate with people because so many people are tuned out,” Wooley said Tuesday. “They’re tuned into their vacations. They’re tuned into their yard work, tuned into family gatherings and barbecues, but they’re not tuned into politicians.”

Woolley says Booker’s challengers may be hoping that low voter turnout could mean that their support in their local districts will overcome their lack of statewide recognition, but he says that’s very unlikely.

Quinnipiac University poll director Maurice Carroll doubts the other Democratic candidates will be able to build their statewide name recognition enough to beat Cory Booker in next month’s primary election.

“People who are not known in early July are going to have an awful task becoming known by mid-August,” he said. “I mean if I wasn’t a pollster I’d say it’s impossible.”

Registered Republicans will choose between former Bogota Mayor Steven Lonegan, or the tea party embraced candidate Dr. Alieta Eck.

The election for the seat formerly held by the late U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg will take place Oct. 16.

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.