Lonegan-Booker rhetoric gathers momentum

Steve Lonegan blasted Booker for not releasing expense records.
Steve Lonegan blasted Booker for not releasing expense records.
Posted: August 25, 2013

Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Republican Steve Lonegan - as well as allied Super PACs - are ratcheting up personal attacks in the special U.S. Senate race in New Jersey, seemingly competing to denounce the other as too radical for his own party.

On Friday, the conservative Super PAC American Commitment Action Fund joined with the antiabortion Susan B. Anthony List to release a new ad calling Booker's stance on abortion "too extreme" even among Democrats.

Noting Booker's role on the Democratic National Convention's platform committee last year, the ad accuses Booker of supporting "taxpayer-funded" abortions and of opposing any restrictions on or safety regulations for the procedure.

"Cory Booker on abortion?" the narrator says. "Not safe. Not rare. Taxpayer-funded."

Booker campaign spokesman Kevin Griffis called the ad an "attempt by a shadowy, radical group to shift attention away from Steve Lonegan, who would outlaw abortion even in cases of rape and incest, a position that puts him far outside mainstream values in New Jersey."

Griffis added: "Like most New Jerseyans, the mayor believes that a woman's health-care decisions should be between her and her doctor, and that we should do more to support family planning, generally, so that abortions happen less often."

Also Friday, Lonegan blasted Booker for Newark's "lack of cooperation" on a request he submitted under the state Open Public Records Act asking for records of Booker's expenses as mayor.

Lonegan also released documents showing that the borough of Bogota, where he served three terms as mayor, responded to a similar request from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

"What is Cory Booker hiding? Cory Booker pontificates about fairness and transparency, but the people of New Jersey want action, not vapid, hollow rhetoric," Lonegan said in a statement Friday. "If Cory Booker really believes in fairness and transparency, he will take the time to make sure that his city complies with the New Jersey Open Public Records Act as soon as possible, and not a day after the special election."

Booker spokesman James Allen said he could not review the records Friday evening but added, "Mayor Booker has never used a city credit card or received a reimbursement from the City of Newark during his tenure as mayor."

Lonegan's statement came a day after Booker and Lonegan held dueling news conferences, each accusing the other of being too radical for New Jersey.

Lonegan "is a self-described, in his own words, right-wing radical," Booker said at a Newark warehouse Thursday. "Frankly as a proud progressive, as a proud Democrat, I am fiercely pragmatic."

An unexpected guest showed up at Booker's private campaign event: Lonegan strategist Rick Shaftan, who recorded the speech. The Booker campaign escorted Shaftan out of the warehouse at the end of the speech.

Lonegan defended the behind-enemy-lines move at a news conference held immediately after Booker's event at a nearby hotel.

"We'll try to do the same thing with the video that the American Bridge people who go to my press conferences do with their videos," he told reporters, referring to a liberal political action committee that has targeted him. "We'll fight fire with fire."

The day Booker won the Democratic primary and vowed to match Lonegan's "negative attacks with positive vision," the American Bridge PAC released a video portraying Lonegan as a radical who would further tarnish the image of the national Republican Party after the 2012 elections.

The title of the Aug. 13 video? "Steve Lonegan: The Face of the 'New' GOP." The election is Oct. 16.

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