By Alan Steinberg
Let me say that Cory Booker is a good friend of mine. He and I had an excellent personal and working relationship while I served as Region 2 EPA Administrator under President George W. Bush. I actually think that he would make an outstanding U.S. Senator.
There must be something in the poll data, however, that makes both Rush Holt and Frank Pallone think that they can defeat Booker in the August primary. I would say that Booker’s chances of winning the primary are 65 per cent, but no greater. If Democratic Speaker of the Assembly Sheila Oliver runs, Booker’s chances of a primary victory will be reduced – by how much I do not know.
If Cory Booker wins the August primary, however, he will be elected U.S. Senator in October and will be there for life.
If Cory Booker loses the August primary, there will be a massive NON-turnout of the urban vote in the October special election – and the next U.S. Senator from New Jersey will be Republican conservative STEVE LONEGAN. This prediction goes against conventional wisdom, but conventional wisdom often isn’t very wise.
A Lonegan-Holt or a Lonegan-Pallone race could be the reverse of the Pennsylvania 1991 U.S. Senate special election won by Democrat Harris Wofford over Republican Richard Thornburgh – where Wofford, who started off 40 points behind, was successful in energizing the voters to send a message to an increasingly unpopular President, George H.W.Bush, who had carried Pennsylvania in the previous 1988 presidential race. Wofford’s campaign largely focused on the Bush record on healthcare – or lack of same. In the case of Campaign 2013, Lonegan’s major national issue focus would, as in the case of Wofford 1991 be health care, in this case, ObamaCare. The expanding scandals of the Obama administration could likewise give Lonegan an enhanced basis for a campaign in which his message is “Send President Obama a message.” I know that Obama remains popular in New Jersey, but this is June, not October. One can expect the turnout in the October Senate race to be very low – and even lower if Booker is defeated in the August primary, in which case the urban Democratic vote stays home in October. In the words of famed Chicago columnist Mike Royko , I may be wrong, but I doubt it.
Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush. Region 2 EPA consists of the states of New York and New Jersey, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and eight federally recognized Indian nations. Under former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman, he served as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission. He currently serves on the political science faculty of Monmouth University.