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Steve Lonegan’s Bold Colors

Opposing Obamacare, NJ Senate nominee surges.

By 10.1.13

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Is New Jersey’s Steve Lonegan the next Scott Brown?

A one-time sure-GOP-loser turned winner in a blue state special Senate election?

Made a winner over “sure-thing” Democrat and Newark Mayor Cory Booker by popular revulsion with ObamaCare? And a truly riveting personal story that is turning heads all over the state of New Jersey? (Here is Lonegan telling the story of his blindness that has captured so much attention.)

The question is suddenly being asked as a 35-point Booker lead in a September 11 Rutgers-Eagleton poll eroded by 9 points in just 12 days to a 26-point Booker lead in a September 23 Stockton College poll and has now been eaten away to an astonishing 12-point gap in this Quinnipiac poll released on September 24.

The headline in New Jersey.com?

Poll shows Booker vs. Lonegan race for U.S. Senate is tighter than expected

The story opens with this new information on the special election to replace the late Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg:

A new poll on the U.S. Senate race suggests Cory Booker's expected blowout over Steve Lonegan may not be in the bag.

What’s going on here? How does an “expected blowout” for a liberal shining star in an overwhelmingly blue state suddenly and so dramatically become “tighter than expected”?

Some New Jersey analysts are suggesting that Lonegan’s charges that Booker’s record on crime in Newark isn’t all Booker makes it out to be, that Booker is a “show-horse” celebrity candidate.

But what tracks with these polls is another factor altogether -- and is in fact the exact same element that resulted in the upset victory of Republican Scott Brown in another special Senate election, that one to replace Democrat Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts. Notably, Lonegan is now doing better in the polls three weeks out than Brown was at the same point in his famous 2010 upset race against the supposedly unbeatable Democrat state attorney general Martha Coakley.

That same fact that the Brown and Lonegan elections appear to have increasingly in common?

Obamacare.

Brown won his upset by pledging to be the 41s Senate vote against ObamaCare. He won, startling political Washington and so alarming the Obama White House and the Democrats’ Senate Leader Harry Reid that they were infamously forced to the parliamentary trick of using the reconciliation process to pass the then-pending ObamaCare legislation. The trick further inflamed opponents and resulted in the 2010 landslide-GOP election that among other things returned control of the House to Republicans.

There is one difference -- a big difference -- between Brown and Lonegan.

Steve Lonegan is the real deal conservative that Scott Brown was not. Lonegan is decidedly the “bold colors” conservative of Ronald Reagan’s famous summons. As Lonegan is quite specific in saying here in this interview on Fox and Friends.

Lonegan is unabashed in his support for free market economics and has the powerful personal tale that vividly illustrates the differences between Booker and himself, now in the inevitable campaign commercial with a cameo by -- yes -- Governor Chris Christie.  The commercial features a snippet of Lonegan telling the tale of the diagnosis given his parents when he was fourteen that the young Steve had retinitis pigmentosa. Which is to say a deteriorating eye condition of the retina that leads to blindness.

Lonegan’s father died shortly afterwards, but Lonegan persevered. Still, by the time he had worked himself through college the liberal welfare state had its hooks out for this now almost-blind boy and he was told that his future would amount to “weaving baskets.” He was told to accept disability and simply forget the rest of a normal life. Lonegan would have none of it. He went to a rundown store that sold kitchen cabinets in search of a job. Refused, he asked for a deal: Lonegan would work two weeks selling cabinets for free to show what he could do -- and if he managed to sell cabinets he could get his job. It worked, Lonegan jumping into the private sector and becoming a whirlwind selling kitchen cabinets. By 1988, the one-time Social Security disability recipient who had been told he should simply surrender his life to the welfare state was the largest kitchen cabinet dealer in New Jersey.

He would go on to become the GOP mayor of Democratic Bogata, New Jersey.

Lonegan tells his story powerfully, saying among other things:

“I know how destructive the entitlement state is. I have felt the cold cruel fingers of the entitlement program wrap around my own soul… and government likes it that way. The more clients the better. And I’ll go face to face with any single, solitary social worker who wants to tell me otherwise because I have been there.”

If elected, Lonegan would be only the second senator in US history elected with the disability of being, as they like to say these days, “visually impaired.” One has to relish the silence of all those liberals out there who love to make much of big government’s aid for the disabled falling strangely silent at the Lonegan candidacy.

The story here in this Lonegan-Booker race is increasingly the energy that is surging into the Lonegan race. In addition to the power of Lonegan’s personal story New Jersey residents are suddenly realizing in the middle of this autumn's only Senate race that Obamacare has arrived. Bringing with it the swath of destruction that reduces full-time jobs to part time, forces self-employed doctors to yield their practices to large hospitals and , contrary to the President’s direct promise, results in Americans losing the right to have the doctor of their choice.

Cory Booker is on record as calling Obamacare “great” and pledging that he would do everything he could to see the law implemented.

Uh-oh.

All of this is accentuated by Lonegan’s deliberate contrasting of the free market, as exemplified by his own success story, with the massive failures of the liberal welfare state. The desperate need of liberalism to control the lives of individual Americans, as they once sought to control young Steve Lonegan’s by pushing him into a lifetime of government dependency.

Lonegan is not shy in making his contrasts with what he disdainfully refers to as the “Obama Agenda,” which he describes as everything from Obamacare to the Common Core education issue to Cap and Trade. 

He talks about the nature of the “primordial assault” on America by the “Obama Agenda” and points to Booker’s own breathtakingly bad record as Newark’s mayor. The city has a 15% unemployment rate -- say again 15% -- and crime has skyrocketed even past that of Booker’s liberal Democrat predecessor Sharpe James.

Interestingly, the Obama-led drive in 2012 to portray businessman Mitt Romney’s involvement with Bain Capital as a sign of scandal has unexpectedly caught Booker in his own scandal. It turns out, reports both the New York Times (here and here) and a website called BookerFail that Booker has been tied to an investment in a little known “socially conscious” challenge to YouTube called “Waywire.” Here’s a link to the “About Us” section of Waywire, signed at the bottom by “Cory.”

Waywire’s investors, along with Booker, who has served as the venture’s chairman, include powerful and rich investors such as Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Oprah Winfrey, along with the manager of Lady Gaga.

The curiosity? Well aside from the fact that Booker apparently fancies himself as a Mini-Mitt?

There are several curiosities.

As of June in 2013 Waywire had a grand total of 2, 207 visitors -- in stark contrast to YouTube’s 160 million. Then there’s the presence as an investor of Google’s Schmidt -- Google being the parent company of You Tube. Another curiosity? The presence on the advisory board of Waywire of the fifteen year-old son of CNN president Jeff Zucker -- drawing enough attention (yes, the teenager had stock options) that questions were raised about CNN’s coverage of the Booker-Lonegan race, causing the younger Zucker to depart the board.

All of this was raised as a red flag to a Booker candidacy by no less than a fellow New Jersey Democrat, Congressman Rush Holt. Holt, who challenged Booker for the Democrats’ Senate nomination, charged the Newark mayor with “dodging the serious questions” about Waywire, asking: “Has the mayor spent time running a private, for-profit company rather than serving as mayor of Newark?”

BookerFail goes further, bluntly raising Holt’s question and more after saying that the Waywire venture “looks more like a multimillion dollar gift to Cory Booker than a real business.” Says the site:

Booker claimed last year he would have no role in directing the site’s content, which makes it odd that so many of the videos on Waywire feature Booker.

It’s almost like the whole thing is a backdoor vehicle to promote Booker’s campaign for the U.S. Senate and funnel money to him personally…..

….Given Schmidt’s involvement, it’s reasonable to speculate the plan was for Google, the parent company of YouTube, to buy out Waywire and provide Booker with a massive windfall at some point in the future.

You have to wonder how, if elected, Booker could possibly make important decisions about privacy and technology policy in an unbiased fashion in the United States Senate, knowing his financial future depends on his Waywire stake and a potential payday from Google.

For now the low-traffic website serves principally to bring together Booker and his big money backers at headquarters located just a block from Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange.

That’s right: would-be Jersey senator Cory Booker put his company in New York City -- even though he once told the Times that he sees Newark as “the Silicon Valley of social entrepreneurship.”

Other than videos of Cory Booker, the only notable niche tiny Waywire has developed is extreme anti-Semitic videos. When the Washington Free Beacon broke that story back in March, Waywire responded: “We are now evaluating the videos in question. We take these matters very seriously.” Five months later, anti-Semitic videos are still rampant on the site.”

In other words, the accusation is out there, initially raised by one of Booker’s fellow Democrats, that the Mayor was personally profiting from this Waywire venture to the point that it raised questions. Serious questions of rich liberal investors using Waywire as a way to funnel cash to Booker personally. Pocketing for themselves the vote of a future U.S. Senator on the all-too omnipresent issue of privacy and the role of information giants like… Google. The accusation, given prominence by the BookerFail website, touched such a sensitive nerve that Booker recently announced he would now give his stock (the worth of which has doubtless suffered because of all the negative attention) to charity.

But make no mistake.

While Waywire is an issue in the campaign, and there are other issues (one source informs of a Booker-Planned Parenthood alliance on the issue of partial birth abortion) Lonegan’s main focus is on Booker’s relentless support of the Obama Agenda -- with Obamacare at the top of the list.

According to the headline in the Newark Star-Ledger:

          Obamacare to end health plan used by 100,000 New Jerseyans

Say again, over 100,000 New Jerseyans are set to lose their health care because of Obamacare.

Is Obamacare enough to put Lonegan over the top on October 16?

This remains to be seen.

What is known at the moment is that as the profile of Obamacare has been rising with its launch today, it has been matched by Lonegan’s surge in the polls. Anything other than the blowout for Booker that Democrats have been boasting about for months and which in fact appeared assured in the polls will send a clear signal to wobbly Republicans that they have been right to insist on resolute opposition to Obamacare -- just as Lonegan is doing from one end of New Jersey to another.

Most important is that Steve Lonegan has campaigned openly on the “bold color” principles that brought success to the GOP in the Reagan era -- and that have been tossed aside by party moderates. He understands that even in the bluest of blue states it is critical to make the case and fight the fight -- even at the risk of a loss.

Will he win?

Will Obamacare be the stupend0ous campaign asset for Cory Booker that Democrats are insisting?

They said the same thing when an unknown Scott Brown announced he was running for Ted Kennedy’s seat in 2010 -- on the issue of Obamacare.

This time around, ObamaCare will be locked into place 16 days before the New Jersey special Senate election -- with only Lonegan and Cory Booker on the ballot. Every twitch, every miscue -- and every single hour brings more and more of these to light -- will be reminding New Jersey voters of exactly what Cory Booker’s philosophy, and that of President Obama, has done to them.

Whatever happens on October 16, Steve Lonegan’s life is a testament to what used to be called the American Dream. The boy with no money, the boy with a handicap that prompted the purveyors of the liberal welfare state to tell him he had no future beyond basket weaving -- that boy grows up, works hard and creates a future for himself, his family and his employees that is such a success story he now stands at a respectable distance from a seat in the United States Senate.

They say Steve Lonegan is an underdog.

Then again, he has been an underdog his entire life. Listening to the complete version of his struggle with blindness is truly inspirational. It is both Steve Lonegan’s American story and America’s story. A story of persistence, courage, and character.

Now Steve Lonegan pledges to put these qualities into the fight against Obamacare.

New Jersey voters, watching agog as what Lonegan calls the “cold, cruel fingers” of the entitlement state now strangle their own jobs and health care, are paying attention.

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About the Author
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com.