Opponents hit Booker from right and left

Senate candidate Newark Mayor Cory Booker addresses a gathering of supporters at an event in Deptford Township, N.J. Tuesday, June 18, 2013. A Quinnipiac University poll has Booker with 53 percent of Democratic support in a four-way primary. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Political opponents hit Cory Booker from the left and right Friday, each trying to dent the front-runner in the race for New Jersey Senate.

In Camden, Republican Steve Lonegan held a press conference outside City Hall to hammer Booker’s vision of using federal programs to reduce child poverty.

Lonegan said the city has been hurt by the types of “failed policies” championed by Booker and President Obama.

“Because of failed government policies (Camden) has now been struggling for decades, has lost population, has lost wealth, has lost prosperity, has become reliant on government … from the individual citizen to the city itself,” Lonegan said.

Although he is still running in the GOP primary against doctor Alieta Eck, Lonegan is the heavy favorite in that race and has focused his attention on the Democratic candidates, calling them “rubber stamps” for Obama.

(Lonegan was the first candidate in the race to visit Camden, and in what may have been a political first for New Jersey, a groundskeeper actually stopped his lawnmower as the Republican spoke, rather than having the machine blaring over him).

From the left, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver questioned whether Booker would support cuts to Medicare and Social Security – two cherished institutions for liberals – after Booker Tweeted a quote about entitlement.

“While my opponents in this race may feel differently, Democrats in New Jersey can be confident that I would never agree to cuts to these vital programs,” Oliver said in a news release.

Oliver has only begun ramping up her public campaigning this week, after previously focusing on the state legislative session that ended in June. 

Booker had Tweeted “A sense of entitlement guarantees that you will eventually see yourself as a victim," and attributed the comment to Ezra Bayda, an author from Atlantic City.

Booker has run as the candidate willing to find the middle ground in the Senate.

We’ll have more from Lonegan and Oliver in Saturday's Inquirer.

Pallone announces cash  decrease

Meanwhile, another Democratic candidate, Congressman Frank Pallone, announced that he had $3.35 million cash on hand, a nearly $400,000 decrease from his last report at the end of March.

That’s $1.2 million less than Booker reported, a gap that will sure only widen after Oprah comes to Jersey City for a fund-raiser Aug. 1.

Pallone has only been actively fund-raising since early June, given the sudden onset of the special election after the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg's death. He has raised $160,000 since June 10.

Pallone's campaign said that “with our dedicated force of volunteers and the significant financial resources the campaign has on hand, the campaign is well prepared to deliver the Congressman’s message directly to the voters.”

Holt to visit South Jersey

Democratic Congressman Rush Holt, also running for Senate, announced that he will swing through South Jersey this weekend, with stops in Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem and Ocean Counties Saturday.



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