WASHINGTON, D.C., October 17, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – After a contentious special election battle that saw a predicted coronation become a competition, Democrat Cory Booker has defeated Republican Steve Lonegan in their mutual bid to replace Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), who died in June.
In a special election held Wednesday in New Jersey, Booker received 55 percent of the vote while Lonegan received 44 percent. This was an improved showing for Republicans in the solidly blue state, where President Barack Obama received 58 percent of the vote in 2012, and where the most recent Senate election saw the Democratic candidate get 58.4 percent of the vote to the Republican candidate’s 39.9 percent.
In the final days before the special election, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a registered Independent, flooded Booker’s campaign with $1 million in extra cash to help seal the Democratic contender’s victory. Bloomberg is noted for his liberal social views, which align more closely with Booker’s platform than Lonegan’s.
Those social views took center stage during the run-up to the special election. In a political climate that has seen many campaigns minimize controversial social issues in favor of popular fiscal catchphrases like “job creation” and “tax reform,” Booker and Lonegan took the opposite approach, exchanging frequent verbal blows about social issues ranging from gay adoption to partial birth abortion.
Booker, 44, is the current mayor of Newark and a vehement supporter of both abortion-on-demand and homosexual causes. In developing his platform, he sought guidance and support from NARAL Pro-Choice America, who encouraged him to broaden his support for taxpayer funding of abortion. Booker also co-chaired the most recent Democratic National Convention, at which he successfully pushed to remove the word “rare” from the part of the party platform that used to say abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” Liberal commentator Cokie Roberts later confronted Booker about the convention, calling it “over the top” in its support for abortion-on-demand.
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In a phone interview last Thursday with LifeSiteNews.com, Republican hopeful Steve Lonegan pulled no punches about his pro-life, pro-family stance.
“I’m about as pro-life as they come,” Lonegan told LifeSiteNews.com. “Life begins at conception, and I hold the sanctity of human life at the highest level of respect.”
During the campaign, Booker frequently criticized Lonegan for his opposition to abortion even in the case of rape and incest. Lonegan , however, was unapologetic.
“I think it’s hypocritical and illogical to state that you believe life begins at conception, that a life is sacred, unless that life was created under bad circumstances,” Lonegan told LifeSiteNews. “Rape is a terrible thing. But you don’t punish an innocent baby for that.”
According to Monmouth University political scientist Patrick Murray, the relative closeness of the race should be a warning sign to Booker, who turned voters off not only with his extreme views on abortion, but with questions about his integrity in the face of scandals, including a $700,000 severance payment from his former law firm that many viewed as a kickback in exchange for a $2 million government contract, and shady dealings with tech startup Waywire.
Murray told USA Today, “Even if they don't show up in as great a number as Republicans, you're still looking at a significant advantage for any Democrat running statewide. And so Booker needs to take a lesson from this.”
While Murray said that “a double-digit win is still a double-digit win,” he warned Booker that his victory was “nowhere near the kind of win that the underlying dynamics suggested should happen.”
Added Murray, “[Booker] has to work harder to prove to New Jerseyans that he is in it to serve them.”
New Jerseyans will not have to wait long to weigh in on Booker’s worthiness. His election to the Senate is valid only through early 2015, when Lautenberg’s terms would have expired. He will face re-election in November 2014.
Correction: We originally identified Michael Bloomberg as a Republican, but he left the party in 2007 and is currently registered as in Independent. We regret the error.