From reading the news this week, you might think it is safe to now refer to Cory Booker as the junior Democratic senator from New Jersey.
But Steve Lonegan, the Republican who, like Booker, won his party’s primary Tuesday night for the state’s special U.S. Senate election, strongly cautions against that sort of thinking. The Senate race is hardly over, he tells The Daily Caller.
“I don’t know what you’re seeing down inside the Beltway, but what’s happening there and here are two different things,” Lonegan said Wednesday in a phone interview.
Polls indicate that the 57-year-old Republican former mayor of Bogota, N.J., has his work cut out for him when he faces Booker, the Democratic nominee, in October.
The special election was called to fill the seat vacated by the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appointed Republican Jeff Chiesa to temporarily fill the seat until the special election.)
In an interview after a day of campaigning, Lonegan laid out his argument against Booker, the un-married, 44-year-old rising star in the Democratic Party who liberals already mention as a possible presidential candidate.
“Here’s the thing,” Lonegan said. “Cory Booker is about as far left of a liberal that you’d find anywhere in the country, bar none. I mean, this guy is an extremist.”
The Republican said of Booker: “His three biggest issues are gay marriage, taxpayer-funded abortions and raising minimum wage to $10.15 an hour. I mean, that’s it? This is his idea of economic policy? Like shuttering every small business in the state of New Jersey?”
Lonegan argued that the race is “going to be a referendum on the Obama agenda,” and that the “whole country” will watch it.
“This guy says that Obamacare is great, we have to implement it 100 percent, as fast as possible. I mean, he’s a total rubber stamp for every single thing Obama says,” Lonegan said.
The former Americans for Prosperity state director summed up why he thinks his candidacy could take off: “Believe me, our conservative principles resonate across party lines against an extreme liberal like Cory Booker any day.”
“I’m the most well-prepared person there is to go into this battle to our articulate these issues against the guy whose been nothing but a professional politician his whole life,” Lonegan said, “who has never created a single job, who presides over one of the nation’s most failed cities — and his policies are just wrong for the state.”
“I am a committed conservative,” he added. “I’m able to articulate conservative principles in a way very few people can. And I’m not going to back off. This is going to be the clearest conservative versus liberal race in the country. And we’ll win on that divide.”
As for the sort of policies he’ll emphasize in the race, Lonegan mentioned Obamacare, education, the National Security Agency and debt.
“The number one issue is the attack on individual liberty,” the Republican said. “I think that’s the single biggest issue in the state and country right now under the Obama administration. This explosion of federal government that’s just undermining individual liberties at every turn.”