Almost everyone loves Lonegan - as a sparring partner
By Max Pizarro | July 24th, 2013 - 2:40pm
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Republican or Democrat, almost everyone in the field is going after former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, the movement conservative and front-runner for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate. 

Alieta Eck’s criticizing him, U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-12) is fighting him.

Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-34) a short time ago tweeted indignation at him.

And it in the face of it all, Lonegan appears intent on a brawl with the only one truly ignoring him, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who at least in the pre-general election portion of his quest to be U.S. Senator appears to be modeling his Lonegan fight plan on Chris Christie’s 2009 strategy.

Christie let Lonegan thrash around for much of the GOP Primary, to the point where his gubernatorial rival seemed to get into it more with his own staff about how to properly handle Christie.

But as Lonegan heads to Newark to call out Booker on his home turf, urging the press to compare his own tenure leading Bogota with Booker’s respective helming of city hall, every other candidate in the U.S. Senate race – in both parties - is only too happy to attempt to give Lonegan the scrap he craves with Booker.

Booker did offer the requisite rejoinder after Lonegan threw down the gauntlet in Newark, but it hardly smacked of an energized counter-attack.

“Americans are sick of these sorts of dishonest partisan attacks,” the Booker Campaign told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “They want people to go to Washington to bring people together and get things done." 

Others have been – and continue to be - more animated, and pointed about their abilities - much the way U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell did in his 2012 Democratic Primary - about carrying the fight to the movement conservatives in Washington, D.C., using Lonegan as the most relevant sound-bite punching bag.

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6) routinely points out that he is the only candidate in the race with a history of having defeated a full-blown Tea Party-branded candidate in the 2010 election cycle.

“This is exactly why we need a scientist in the Senate,” Holt groaned when he saw that Lonegan had signed Americans for Prosperity’s latest pledge, this one a vow to oppose climate change legislation that would raise taxes.

Holt champions a carbon tax “or millions will die,” according to his web ad.

Oliver also gonged Lonegan on climate change, tweeting at him and then issuing a statement.

“It’s clear what New Jersey will get if Steve Lonegan is elected to the Senate – another Tea Party, anti-science Republican with his head placed firmly in the sand on the crucial problems that we must take action to solve,” Oliver said. “Of course climate change is real and of course it is being caused by man. Lonegan’s radical agenda is dumbing down America by denying accepted scientific fact and placing oil profits ahead of middle class people affected by calamities like Superstorm Sandy.

“Perhaps that is why Lonegan opposed federal aid to Sandy victims in New Jersey and elsewhere, because he is so firmly entrenched in the bizarre right wing climate change denial movement that he can’t even see the pain and suffering the storm caused right here in our own communities,” she added.

Democrats weren’t the only ones slapping at Lonegan.

This morning, the former mayor’s primary challenger took a shot of its own after learning that Lonegan refused a debate organized by the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, which would have matched him against Dr. Alieta Eck on Saturday, July 27. 

"That Steve Lonegan doesn't want to debate Dr. Eck should probably come as no surprise,” said Eck Campaign Manager Thomas Roberts. “Mr. Lonegan has run for office many times and can identify some problems facing Americans, but without solutions he would just join the ranks of those already in D.C. who are watching our nation's economic decline. In contrast, Dr. Eck has outlined proven, workable solutions to provide health care and reduce spending. The contrast in a debate would not have been favorable for Mr. Lonegan. We still welcome any future opportunity to debate.”

Lonegan lapped up the punches from all angles.

“They can pander to their liberal base, which is fine by me. They can use me as their punching bag, I don’t mind,” he said of the Democrats.

As for Eck, “Alieta Eck is a lovely lady,” the Republican senate candidate added. “I have always refused League of Women Voter debates, because the league stands for everything I oppose. They are not nonpartisan debates.”

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