For the millions of Americans who love to dump on New Jersey, it's your lucky day. The state that brought you Paulie Walnuts, Snookie and the turnpike from hell has dropped another laughingstock into the national conversation. The unfathomable Steve Lonegan.
Lonegan, Cory Booker's opponent in the Senatorial Special Election on October 16, is probably not going to win. He's been consistently down 10 points, and thanks to Chris Christie's desire to keep Booker voters away from his sacred November election day, Lonegan has less time to chip into Booker's lead.
Interestingly, in one of the most diverse states in the country, Lonegan has decided to run a campaign Archie Bunker would have been proud of.
His campaign's Twitter account tweeted a picture of "Booker's foreign policy notes", with Newark lodged in between West Africa and Guyana. Not content to bash his state's largest city solely on social media, Lonegan called it a, "black hole" and claimed that the Newark river was unsalvageable because of all the dead bodies floating in there.
Because offending only one minority group would be too easy, Lonegan went full Putin in August claiming Booker preferred, "going out at 3 o'clock in the morning for a manicure and pedicure," over a cigar and a glass of scotch. Interestingly, Booker's opponent in 2006, the currently incarcerated Sharpe James, used similar tactics.
Lonegan has consistently opposed government bailouts and bashed Booker for receiving aid from Chris Christie, yet as the mayor of Bogota, a sleepy New Jersey hamlet, he asked for a $500,000 state bailout in 2006, and $100,000 more a year later.
In 2011, rather than debating the merits of Obamacare, Lonegan said, "I hate to see you have cancer, but that's your problem, not mine." No sympathy was reserved for the victims of Hurricane Sandy either, because according to Lonegan, "every day, somebody is suffering a tragedy of equal or worse impact and we don't run and hand them a check."
It may be an indictment of Booker's campaign that a smart, charismatic national figure like the Newark Mayor isn't up 30 points right now.
Lonegan has the charisma of Dana Brody and the stability of Carrie. He has called Social Security the, "biggest single threat facing America today," and attempted to organize a boycott of McDonald's for putting up Spanish-language billboards.
For all of Booker's flaws, one of his most admirable strengths, especially in today's poisonous political climate, is his ability to reach across the aisle. He's worked closely with Christie, a popular Republican Governor, and counts many conservative titans of Wall Street as friends.
Booker's opponent couldn't compromise with a blow-up doll. He can't seem to keep George Wallace-style rants out of his campaigns talking points, a damning flaw in a left-leaning state like New Jersey.
On Wednesday night, the lesson of Steve Lonegan will be that he should have embraced civility. He should have realized the people of New Jersey don't view politics as a zero-sum game.
But the truth is, he'll probably be forgotten by Halloween.
Follow Thomas Alter on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MrTalter