“Christie is worrying about how to win by big enough numbers in his own reelection to maintain his front-running status in the 2016 Republican presidential race,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “He doesn’t have time or inclination to worry about Lonegan.”
Booker did not mention Buono or Christie or the importance of reelecting a Democratic-controlled Legislature in a victory speech that stressed the need for a new bipartisanship in Washington as much as it drew distinctions between his own Democratic beliefs and Lonegan’s conservative Republican values.
But Democratic leaders are confident that Booker will be there campaigning and raising money for state races in the fall when it counts.
“Booker’s victory over Lonegan in October will give the party a big lift going into November,” said John Currie, the state Democratic chairman and veteran Passaic County leader. “He has emphasized that this is a team effort, and that he will do everything he can within the legal parameters to help the Democratic ticket” -- a tacit admission that Booker could face legal hurdles turning over a get-out-the-vote operation created and funded for a federal election for use in a state race.
Having Booker campaigning on the same issues that Buono and Democrats are emphasizing also helps, party leaders said.
“Cory’s victory is good for New Jersey because Cory Booker is a senator who would support an increase in the minimum wage, pay equity, a woman’s right to choose, and a Supreme Court that supports Roe v, Wade,” Buono said. “Cory and I have been talking together about the race ahead, we’re all going to pull together for Cory in October and then we will pull together to win the Statehouse for the Democrats in November.”
While Booker may not be able to do much to help Buono close her 30-point gap against Christie in the polls, “Booker could spend a lot of time campaigning in South Jersey and other vulnerable legislative districts, and signing people up to vote by mail for both his race and the November campaign,” Murray said. That could be important if Christie wins by 25 points or more -- the point at which he believes Christie’s coattails could threaten marginal Democratic legislative seats.
Booker, whose consistent 30 point-plus lead in the polls over Pallone and Holt stood up in yesterday’s election, led Lonegan by 25 percent in last week’s Quinnipiac Poll.
“You’re going to have a middle-of-the-road Democrat in Cory running against an unabashedly, unashamedly Far Right candidate,” Lesniak said. “We couldn’t have a better matchup in a state like New Jersey.”