This could be the year former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, a staunch conservative, finally wins the Republican nomination for a statewide office -- in this case, the U.S. Senate.
The 57-year old, who headed the New Jersey chapter of Americans for Prosperity until earlier this year, has twice been unsuccessful in seeking the GOP nod for governor -- in 2005 and 2009.
With 41 years having passed since New Jersey voters chose a Republican to serve in the U.S. Senate and a compressed campaign schedule due to Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to hold special elections, Lonegan is one of only two Republicans to get into the race.
According to the most recent poll, released early last month by Quinnipiac University, he has a commanding 62 percent to 5 percent lead over opponent Alieta Eck, a doctor.
"The Republican race looks even more one-sided than the Democratic primary,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Alieta Eck hardly registers.”
So it is not surprising that Lonegan, who is legally blind, has been running against Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who is far ahead in the polls on the Democratic side, rather than his primary opponent.
All of the positions on hiscontrast his views with those of “Cory Booker and the other Democrats.” And last Tuesday, Lonegan traveled to Booker’s Newark campaign headquarters to announce his own opposition to the National Security Agency’s surveillance of phone calls and emails and attack Booker for not taking a strong stand on that and many other issues: He called Booker’s campaign “vapid” more than once.
“One of the key elements that angered the colonists …was the ability of the crown to use what was called the general warrant. A general warrant authorized the police or the military forces of the crown to go into the homes of colonists, go through their papers, go through their personal effects, without any due cause, without any reason,” Lonegan said, asserting that the NSA program violates the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.
“What we are watching is our Constitution being torn up for the purpose of allegedly protecting us from terrorism. What we are seeing now … is a return to the same general warrants that were used by the crown against the colonists,” Lonegan said.
Lonegan said he would have supported a bipartisan attempt two weeks ago by two Michigan congressmen to stop indiscriminate surveillance. That narrowly failed in the U.S. House of Representatives, which voted to continue funding the controversial program. He said Booker had only made some vague statements about the issue, although the Booker campaign pointed out that its website includes a statement on the issue -- on it Booker states, “We need to vigorously guard our Fourth Amendment privacy protections while still protecting Americans from terrorism.”
The issue clearly illustrates Lonegan’s conservative, libertarian beliefs.
“This goes to the centerpiece of my campaign for U. S. Senate,” he said. “Every single vote I will cast in the U.S. Senate, I will have one determining factor: Am I preserving your liberty, your privacy, your freedom from government, from the shackles of big government, from the invasion of your privacy?”