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Following Senator Frank Lautenberg’s (D-NJ) passing on June 3, New Jersey governor Chris Christie announced that a special election would be held on October 16 to fill the vacant seat. Christie’s decision has stirred up controversy, with Democrats calling it a political move, and others opposing the estimated $24 million the special election will cost the state.

Despite opposition from several New Jersey pols, Christie has stood by his decision.

As of Monday afternoon, five candidates had officially joined the race: Republican Steve Lonegan, and Democrats Rush Holt, Frank Pallone, Cory Booker, and Sheila Oliver.

Quinnipiac Poll released Monday morning found that Newark mayor Cory Booker is already leading the race with 53 percent, followed by Rep. Rush Holt at 10 percent and Rep. Frank Pallone with 9 percent. Lonegan is way behind both. The poll was conducted before another Democratic candidate, State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, announced she would throw her hat in the ring.

Scroll through to learn more about the five candidates.

AP Photos

Steve Lonegan

Former mayor of Bogota, New Jersey, Steve Lonegan (R) was the first person to declare his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat that was left vacant after former Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s death. Lonegan is known for his right-wing viewpoints on nearly all issues, and he stated that much of his decision to run had to do with “fighting back against President Obama’s agenda.” As of Monday afternoon, Lonegan remains the sole Republican to have declared his candidacy.

Photo: Nick Step via Flickr.com

Holt

Rep. Rush Holt, who has been representing New Jersey’s 12th district for 14 years, was the first Democrat to announce that he was in. Holt is known for his progressive positions, and was rated as the one of the eight most liberal members of the House of Representatives by the National Journal. On Thursday, Holt, who is also a research physicist, stated, “I believe I am the best candidate to continue the passionate advocacy…that Sen. Lautenberg exemplified.”

AP Photo/Mel Evans

Frank PalloneRep. Frank Pallone has served in Congress for 25 years, and his progressive record on issues such as the Affordable Care Act and mass transportation funding closely align with those of Lautenberg. Pallone, who announced on Sunday that he is officially in the race, cited his long tenure in Congress to show that he is the “best person to get the job done.”

 

Cory BookerNewark Mayor Cory Booker (D) announced on Sunday that he joined the race, becoming the second Democrat to do so. A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday morning shows Booker has a huge lead in the Democratic primary – no surprise, since Booker is popular and known for being a strong fundraiser. Still, the competition between him, Pallone and Holt will grow fiercer as we approach the August primary.

AP Photo/Jessica Hill

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On Sunday night, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex) announced that she would be the fourth major Democrat to join the race. Oliver, who took office in 2010, has a tough road ahead of her, facing three much-better-known Democrats.

Photo: deb via Flickr.com

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