While most of the national attention seems to be geared towards 2014 and 2016, there is a slate of elections taking place in New Jersey this Fall. The more notable one will take place November 5th as voters will decide on the governor and the State Legislature races. About three weeks before that on October 16th, voters will elect the next U.S. Senator from New Jersey. It is a race that pits Newark Mayor Cory Booker against former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan. While it looks like Booker is cruising in polls and New Jersey has not elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate in 41 years, it has not stopped endorsements and speeches from members of each party from joining the campaign.
The first major name to put their support behind one of the candidates was Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ12). Pallone is more local than the others who have visited the state, but he likely would have been the nominee if it were not for Booker. In a fairly typical political move, the primary opponents buried their problems for their betterment of the party and the election ahead.
As Pallone would state at a campaign stop,
I'm glad to be here supporting Cory Booker and I'll continue to do that. Not only for this election but for next year as well.
Booker would return the support by voicing,
While there definitely were nuanced differences between us, the truth of the matter is that especially down at the Shore this is not only a leader but a legend
The endorsement not only gives Booker a strong ally in the state but avoids a potential challenge from Pallone in 2014.
Shortly after Pallone backed Booker, Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe was brought in to provide a boost for Booker. McAuliffe has seen his own fortunes turn in his favor of late in his race and is hoping Booker will will also be victorious. Running against McAuliffe is Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Like Lonegan, Cuccinelli has rallied against the Affordable Care Act and often reflects the same opinions on several issues.
With that in mind, McAuliffe would express the following while campaigning for Booker:
Both Cuccinelli and Lonegan want to criminalize abortion even in the case of rape and incest. That's why Mayor Booker and I are both working hard to make sure that the people of New Jersey and America aren't represented by right-wing politicians who want to make healthcare decisions for women that should be between them and their doctors.
The next potential governor of Virginia was soon followed by the current governor of Massachusetts. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick joined the discussion of the senatorial campaign with a stop for Booker. The two men have been strong allies of President Barack Obama and could both be on some short lists of potential Democratic candidates in 2016. Patrick took aim at Lonegan and others like him who want to "drag the country and its economy over a cliff".
As Patrick would utter,
It's amazing that people would publicly advocate to harm American citizens as a policy position. The Affordable Care Act, just like our health reform in Massachusetts, on which it is based, has done a lot of good for an awful lot of people, giving them health-care security and a wide range of choice and also helped us control health-care costs. It'll do the same for the nation.
He would add,
We've regained all of the jobs we lost during the Great Recession. None of this is by accident. It's because we keep saying to each other and to the general public, 'We have a stake in each other and we need to invest with that in mind.' That is exactly the way Mayor Booker has governed in Newark. We need the Republican Party in the way, I guess, I used to think of it, which is a loyal opposition and not a band of radicals who want to drag the country and its economy over a cliff. The country has problems. Some of those problems will be solved in the private market to be sure, but some of those problems require good government and that's what we'll get from Cory Booker.
Due to scheduling conflicts, Booker was not alongside Patrick at any of his stops around the Garden State.
Not to be outdone, Lonegan would bring in a couple endorsements and GOP figures to join him on the campaign trail. First would be Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), a favorite of conservatives and the Tea Party. Paul and Governor Chris Christie found themselves sparring earlier this and setting up for potential future debates in 2016 if the two were to run for the GOP nomination for president.
Paul would outline during a stop for Lonegan,
There’s 15,000 people out of work in Newark. One in three people in Newark are living in poverty, and Cory Booker’s got an imaginary friend named T-Bone. You’ve got a Democrat candidate now who was against the war before he was for the war and seems to be a little uncertain where he is on the issue. If you’re running for the Senate and you don’t have an opinion on the Syrian war, you have a confused opinion. I think that’s maybe an indication that you’re not ready.
He would continue,
Steve Lonegan can win, and he only wins in a blue state like this if you go out and you turn every friend out and you make some new friends and turn them out also. For Republicans trying to make deep spending cuts in Congress, Lonegan would be a stalwart ally.
Despite Paul being a resource to provide a boost for his campaign, he only served to bring out those who are already supporting Lonegan and a bloc that will surely vote for him.
Lonegan would also call upon another conservative and Tea Party favorite in Texas Governor Rick Perry. Perry would use his visit to New Jersey to take jabs at President Obama regarding the government shutdown before turning his attention to Lonegan's opponent and special election race.
Perry would comment,
What a breath of fresh air to have a true believer in the United States constitution (in Steve Lonegan). He understands that at its core, the federal government needs to do a few things, and do those things well, like defending our borders (and) making sure that we have an appropriately funded military.
Like Paul, Perry only fires up base voters in the Garden State and those that Lonegan is not really fighting for in his efforts to close the gap in the senatorial race.
With less than two weeks to go before voters go to the ballots, there will be a couple more endorsements and visits to come. Vice President Joe Biden is expected to visit next week and campaign for Booker while former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will spearhead a social media push for Lonegan as opposed to coming to New Jersey to campaign.
As polls continue to show a relatively unchanged race since the August 13th primary election that nominated the two men, these endorsements certainly bring name recognition and some national attention but not major shifts in the way voters are expected to vote. The Democrats behind Booker help build his national image while the Republicans behind Lonegan only cement the type of candidate he is.
There have been other groups like Garden State Equality come out for Booker and the NRA come out for Lonegan throughout the general election campaign as well.
With October 16th nearing, there might be a few more surprise visits and campaign stops. But, you can almost expect not to see too many surprises on election day.