Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will campaign tonight at a get-out-the vote rally in Morristown, New Jersey with Steve Lonegan, the GOP candidate in tomorrow’s special election to replace the late Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) in the United States Senate. Lonegan’s aggressive campaign has thrown the error prone Democratic candidate, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, off his game. Most recent polls suggest Lonegan has closed the gap in what was supposed to be a virtual coronation of Booker as Lautenberg’s successor in the traditionally liberal Garden State.
Priebus’ visit comes a week after conservative stalwarts Sarah Palin and Mark Levin hit the campaign trail with Lonegan.
On Monday, Monmouth University released a poll that showed Booker with a ten point lead over Lonegan, 52 percent to 42 percent. Earlier, a Rutgers-Eagleton poll showed Booker with a 22 percent lead, 58 percent to 36 percent, which is more in line with most expectations before the campaign began.
Lonegan is the former mayor of Bogota, New Jersey and former state director for Americans for Prosperity who lost a bitter 2009 Republican gubernatorial primary to current Governor Chris Christie. Lonegan has championed the Tea Party movement’s political philosophy of constitutionally limited government, but his fiery personality has ruffled the feathers of establishment politicians in both parties.
On Monday, Lonegan went on the attack again after press reports surfaced that neighbors of the residence Booker has claimed as his own believe that the Newark mayor does not reside in the city whose government he leads, and may not even reside in the state.
The Washington Times reported that Lonegan held a news conference on Monday in front of a building located at 435 Hawthone Avenue in Newark, which Booker had once claimed as his residence. At the news conference Lonegan said “that Newark Mayor Cory Booker, his rival in the New Jersey Senate race, should come clean about where he lives following a news report that raised questions about where the Democrat calls home.”
According to Buzzfeed, Kevin Griffis, communications director for the Booker campaign, called Lonegan’s allegations “laughable.” He added that “Cory Booker has lived for 16 years in some of Newark’s toughest neighborhoods, including for seven years on Hawthorne Avenue, fighting every day to make the city a better place for its residents.”
Booker’s campaign stated that Booker had lived at the Hawthorne Avenue location from 2006 until early 2013. While he lived there, the first floor was vacant, the second floor was occupied by Booker’s 24-hour police security detail, and Booker himself lived on the third floor.
Newark Police Director Samuel DeMaio told Buzzfeed that Booker required a 24-hour security detail because “[t]here have been numerous threats on the mayor’s safety during the last seven years.”
Newark is apparently the only city in the United States with a population of less than one million that provides its mayor with a publicly funded 24-hour police security detail.