Steve Lonegan, the long-shot Republican challenger to Democratic Newark Mayor Cory Booker in the race to win New Jersey's open Senate seat, has taken an interesting tactic in attacking Booker's ambiguity over his sexuality ... one that is likely to destroy what is left of his entire campaign.
Questions about Booker's sexuality have dogged him all of his career as he has steadfastly refused to get married. Lately, questions of his sexuality have come into the forefront after his professed joy that people believe he is gay because it helps to challenge homophobia, although he did mention ex-girlfriends and people he has dated.
But Lonegan, the blind, former mayor of Bogota and a longtime rival of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, made some bizarre comments about Booker's response, calling it "weird" and that he [Lonegan] "personally like(s) being a guy." He then followed up his comments by stating that Booker likes to go out for manicures and pedicures at three in the morning and that he [Lonegan] instead has a fetish for a "good Scotch and a cigar."
Charitably, Lonegan, a clear long shot and last ditch choice of the New Jersey GOP, and who is heavily down in the polls despite the very popular Christie's public endorsement, could be attempting to question Booker's credibility, honesty, and popularity with the common man. His line of thinking could be: if Booker cannot tell the truth about his sexuality and prefers to have pedicures at three in the morning, he is clearly out of touch with the common man and a liar to boot.
More likely, Lonegan is gay-baiting and implying that Booker, as a possible homosexual, is not in touch with the people and is also less of a man as a result. This tactic is the tactic of a desperate candidate who recognizes he is down massively in the polls and has almost no chance of winning. Furthermore, a loss here, combined with his previous losses in GOP primaries, could discredit him as a candidate for higher office in New Jersey completely, leading to his insane bravado. Lonegan needs a victory, or at a least a close race, to try and prove to the voters he is not an also-ran and a perennial candidate ... and furthermore that the state GOP can trust him to raise their banner without embarrassment.
While Lonegan ran a fairly impressive campaign against Christie in 2009, the wheels appear to be falling off. Even if the charitable explanation of his comments is true, his consultants know full well there are far better ways to express that sentiment. The comment therefore is more indicative of an undisciplined and desperate candidate searching for anything that will stick to Cory Booker, the "Superman" mayor.
In any case, Lonegan, the GOP choice by default after no one else wanted to run, is almost certain to lose by a large margin as his Hail Mary appears to have failed. Not many people care about Booker's possible homosexuality, just like how Florida voters (Republican ones at that) did not care about questions of Charlie Crist's sexuality in 2006, and those rumors appeared to be grounded more in fact. Marco Rubio drove Crist out of the Republican senatorial primary in that state by focusing on the issues. By conceding control of the debate over issues to Booker, despite legitimate problems with Booker's management of Newark, Lonegan has probably destroyed his chances of higher office at any point along with his long shot dream of stopping Booker.