Cory Booker's campaign hit some bumps, but a Senate seat seems certain
Cory Booker's campaign for the US Senate was bumpier than many expected, but he still holds a double-digit lead in the polls heading into Wednesday's election.
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Booker had raised $11.2 million for his campaign through early October, compared to Lonegan's $1.4 million, according to campaign finance reports reviewed by the Newark Star-Ledger.Skip to next paragraph
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In an 11th hour push for Lonegan, tea party leaders have begun coordinating phone banks and a get-out-the-vote effort. The nation's largest tea party political action committee — the Tea Party Express — brought former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in to campaign for the GOP nominee last weekend.
Tea party supporters dream of another surprise upset like Republican Scott Brown's unexpected victory in Democratic-leaning Massachusetts in a 2010 special election to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Democrats in Washington mostly stayed out of the race until the final week. President Barack Obama released a video Monday urging voters to cast ballots for Booker and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz stumped with Booker on Sunday. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a longtime Booker supporter, spent $1 million on a television ad for Booker.
Booker campaign officials say they expected all along that the race would tighten, because no New Jersey Democrat running statewide has won with more than 60 percent of the vote in a generation. But they say they're confident that the double digit lead in the polls will be borne out on Election Day.
"We knew there would be a narrowing," Booker said in an interview with The Associated Press, "and so far the election has gone for us exactly according to plan."
Still, Republicans in Washington say they're pleased that Booker has had to work harder than anyone imagined. They're privately cheering the tea party's involvement.
And they suggest that Booker is making mistakes that could come back to haunt him as he eyes his political future. Some Democrats have mused about the possibility that Booker — a gifted public speaker who is young at age 44 — could make an attractive vice presidential candidate in 2016.
There's little doubt that Booker has national aspirations. He's spent a chunk of his mayoral tenure traveling the country, meeting with big Democratic donors and raising money in places like Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Hollywood star Matt Damon helped organize one Booker fundraiser in California.
Booker advisers suggest that the aggressive fundraising schedule has dual benefits, generating resources quickly for the special election, while giving Booker a head start for his next election. If he wins on Wednesday, he'll have to defend his seat next November.
Lonegan, however, says his campaign is "cresting."
"It's not a longshot," he told the AP. "We're going to win on Wednesday."