As with any race or campaign, candidates will naturally look to target one another. Sometimes issues are used as material. Sometimes things can get personal and off track. Overall, there is usually a mixture of barbs thrown at one another. The special election race to select the next U.S. Senator from New Jersey between Newark Mayor Cory Booker and former Bogota Mayor Steven Lonegan has been no different.
To provide a quick taste of some of the rhetoric, below is two comments by both candidates:
Lonegan: "Cory Booker is a far-left liberal, an extremist."
Booker: "He is a self-described, in his own words, right-wing radical"
Plain and simple, the two men have not strayed from going all out in how they view one another when talking at campaign stops.
As Booker would further elaborate on Lonegan and himeself,
We have one candidate who believes we are stronger when we stand together, when we work together, when we take care of our own versus another one who clearly believes we are better when we fend for ourselves, where the weak, needy, vulnerable, elderly, innocent are on their own.
While Lonegan would express,
Out of a civil society, you can create a social safety net that will encourage people to go out and give a hand up and not a handout. We’ve shifted away from that sort of civil society to this big government, massive entitlement state.
He would add when talking about Booker,
Cory Booker has never created a job in his life. He worships big government. Fifteen percent unemployment isn’t pragmatic. It’s called failure.
Both men have made a part of their message that they best represent the voters and residents of New Jersey and how they would better serve the state if elected to the U.S. Senate. What is also clear is they present voters for Wednesday's election with two contrasting candidates. One supports several of President Barack Obama's initiatives and would be a likely "yes" vote on multiple Democratic initiatives in the U.S. Senate. While the other hopes to repeal some pieces of legislation passed in the last few years as well as overturn some judicial decisions and would a potential firebrand voice in the U.S. Senate ala Ted Cruz (R-TX) or Mike Lee (R-UT).
Despite likely be a strong vote and voice for the Democratic Party if elected, Booker has made a major aspect of his campaign his willingness to work with Republicans. The best example is his multiple conversations with Governor Chris Christie to better Newark and even the state as a whole. Booker has gotten some criticism for his relationship with Christie and some of his stances by some in his party. It has not stopped him from making his ability to talk with Republicans a strength he feels will only enhance his role in the U.S. Senate.
Booker would recently voice,
I can't help but get a little upset about what's going on in America today. I expected our Congress to come together and stop a government shutdown. You cannot govern from manufactured brinksmanship that shakes our economy and makes real people hurt. The end story of America is us finding ways to move forward despite our differences. Our politicians are becoming far more divisive than our people are.
That echoes to Booker's belief that Democrats and Republicans must work together and based on speeches by both candidates; Booker will do that but Lonegan would be the complete opposite.
True to his form, Lonegan would take the opposite approach and double down on the shutdown calling it a smart approach agreeing with what Republicans and especially conservative members of the party are doing. To make his comments that much more different than Booker's approach to the current situation, Lonegan practically insinuated he did not care much for the 30,000 plus furloughed federal workers impacted in New Jersey.
As the race hits the final days, both candidates have looked to hit home those statements above and make the contrasts between as evident as ever.
Booker in the last few days would state,
He (Lonegan) thinks that this shutdown is good for his politics. He thinks the shutdown is about playing games with real peoples’ lives so that this election can become some kind of game that helps injure Democrats. In this election, voters have a very clear choice. If you like what you’re getting in Washington right now, if you like the shutdown politics, my opponent Steve Lonegan is your guy. If we want to make government work for everyday people again it’s going to take leaders who know how to bring people together to get things done.
Lonegan has been more blunt and broad with his recent statements exclaiming,
When I win, Obama will fold. I have come as far as I have in this campaign by ignoring the advice from all the pollsters and consultants who have told me to change what I think and change who I am. New Jerseyans are looking for a leader who fights for working taxpayers, not a Hollywood wannabe like Cory Booker who will rubber stamp the President's far-left wing agenda.
As the race to elect the a new U.S. Senator heads into the final days and hours, the two candidates will making several last stops to hopefully wrap up a win. At each, they will likely hit home several of their previous comments on their opponent and one could expect if not the same level; a higher level of energy and commentary by both. It has been a sprint of a race and that has only led to an intense contest.