In the midst of increasing criticism from both left and right, Newark mayor and Democratic Senate candidate Cory Booker’s poll numbers have dropped, and the New Jersey Senate race has tightened. A number of polls show the October 16 special election, which Booker was expected to win handily, is getting far closer than anticipated. In response, he has gone negative with television ads attacking the Republican candidate, Steve Lonegan.
Booker’s national presence has made him a target for a wide-ranging number of media outlets.
His connections to tech giants in Silicon Valley resulted in a New York Times article that stated tech companies “made a financial bet on the mayor’s political future.” On the issues, Booker has refused to be clear on where he comes down on the issue of a paid sick leave mandate. The measure is backed by labor and strictly rejected by big business. This has sparked a sort of “which side are you on?” question by progressive news outlets. Finally, the discovery of tweets between Booker and a Portland, OR exotic dancer has again put his name in negative headlines.
Is all this bad press catching up to him? Perhaps.
A Quinnipiac University poll conducted in late September showed Booker with a lead of just 12 points over Lonegan. This is a sharp contrast to a Stockton College poll that showed Booker with a 26 point advantage and a Rutgers-Eagleton poll that had him up 35 points. The most shocking poll, which may be the least accurate, is a Lonegan campaign internal poll that shows the race is within a 6 point margin.
It appears the fluctuation has not gone unnoticed. A day after the Lonegan campaign released the poll that shows Booker winning by only 6 percentage points, the Booker campaign went negative with a television ad.
While Booker appears at the end of the ad with a smile and an uplifting message about what he can do as a New Jersey senator, it begins with an attack. “I’m a right-wing radical” Steve Lonegan says at the beginning of the ad. There’s no context given to Lonegan’s statement..
The ad begs the question: Is Cory Booker worried about his position in the race?
Photo: JD Lasica via Flickr.com