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Steve Lonegan, the Republican candidate in New Jersey’s upcoming special election for U.S. Senate, thinks that it’s “weird” that his Democratic opponent Cory Booker doesn’t mind rumors about his sexuality.

In a Washington Post profile published Tuesday, Booker explained why he isn’t bothered by people calling him gay.

“And people who think I’m gay, some part of me thinks it’s wonderful. Because I want to challenge people on their homophobia,” Booker said. “I love seeing on Twitter when someone says I’m gay, and I say, ‘So what does it matter if I am? So be it. I hope you are not voting for me because you are making the presumption that I’m straight.'”

This answer apparently bothered Lonegan, who responded thusly in an interview with Newsmax on Tuesday evening:

“It’s kind of weird. As a guy, I personally like being a guy. I don’t know if you saw the stories last year. They’ve been out for quite a bit about how he likes to go out at three o’clock in the morning for a manicure and a pedicure,” Lonegan said.

He also told Steve Malzberg: “I don’t like going out in the middle of the night, or any time of the day, for a manicure and pedicure. It was described as his peculiar fetish . . .

“I have a more peculiar fetish. I like a good Scotch and a cigar. That’s my fetish but we’ll just compare the two.”

Lonegan also speculated that “maybe it helps get him the gay vote by acting ambiguous.”

Lonegan’s implication that Booker is gay — and therefore not a real “guy” — may not bother the Newark mayor, but New Jersey voters may not be as forgiving. According to a recent poll, they favor same-sex marriage by a 60 to 31 percent margin.

The statement marks the latest in a series of controversies for Lonegan, the Tea Party-backed former mayor of Bogota, New Jersey. Over the past month Lonegan has dealt with the fallout from a racially inflammatory tweet, appearing on the radio show of anti-gay hate group leader Bryan Fischer, and declaring that Hurricane Sandy aid was “over the top.

Polls suggest that Booker is the overwhelming favorite in the October 16 special election.

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