Chris Christie comes to Hunterdon for an obligatory moment standing next to Steve Lonegan, and goes after Cory Booker for hanging out with Oprah Winfrey, despite the fact he’s warmed Oprah’s couch plenty himself. Promoted by Rosi
Governor Christie could not have chosen a more out of the way place than Hunterdon County GOP HQ – hot, crowded, poorly ventilated – to endorse Steve Lonegan for United States Senate. I thought the endorsement would take place outdoors, at least in the parking lot. Or, on this beautiful cool August day, Lonegan could have opted for the Flemington Borough Park. But then the press would have noted just how sparse the crowd actually was. Packed in a room they look much larger.
However, all the key players were there: Rep. Leonard Lance (whom called Lonegan his “partner in fiscal conservatism” from his support of the then-State Senator’s lawsuit against then-Gov. Jim McGreevey). Lance mustered up just enough faux enthusiasm to sound almost real in his endorsement.
After Lance, State Senator Mike Doherty took the stage and sincerely endorsed the former mayor of Bogota. The two of them have been in simpatico since 2009 when Lonegan coattails enabled Doherty to crush Marcia Karrow in their State Senate primary in Warren and Hunterdon – two of the counties where Lonegan resoundingly beat Christie in 2010.
Then the show really began, when Christie showed up. Looking slimmer and ready for the road show for 2016 that he’d like to see begin for him the morning after Election Day 2013, Christie went right for the jugular on Mayor Cory Booker (a mayor with whim he has shared the stage many times; many more times than he’s shared any stage with Lonegan, I think). He attacked Booker for being the choice of the “Hollywood elites”, for appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Show, and being a liberal. Never mind the fact that Christie himself has also warmed Oprah’s couch, has done his share of the TV circuit (Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live, and the new Michael J. Fox show in the fall).
Christie promised this would not be his only appearance in the oddly scheduled October race. That he’d be there for him to raise money, campaign with and travel with around New Jersey. That remains to be seen. His aspirations say one thing; his mouth says another.
There is no question that if Christie truly believed Lonegan had a chance in Heck to become the first Republican U.S. Senator in many years number one, the candidate would be running with the Governor in November. And number two, Lonegan would not be close to being the candidate.
And so it goes. I had fun at the GOP HQ (all Republicans were very courteous) and had the pleasure of introducing folks like Lonegan himself, Paul Mulshine, Rick Shaftan to the Republican members of the Flemington Borough Council (where I’m a Democratic member of Council).
One thing was interesting: I got to chance to chat with a few of the young people Lance thanked. When questioned about their own candidate, their collective answer: “No chance in hell against Booker.” I whipped out my phone and showed them a picture of me and Mayor Booker together. There were oohs and ahhs and “You’ve actually met him”?
This will be an interesting race. Most politicians occasionally utter some gaffe; but that’s what Lonegan campaigns on everyday.