Booker vs. Lonegan: N.J. Debate

Cory Booker has been a failure as mayor of New Jersey’s largest city, and the only economic development has been in his bank account, Republican Steven Lonegan said today.

Booker, 44, fired back that Lonegan is a member of a “Tea Party fringe” he said is holding the full-faith and credit of the United States “hostage” by prompting the partial federal shutdown.

Lonegan was referring to Booker’s recent disclosure that he earned $3.9 million over the past 15 years, primarily through speaking engagements and settlements from a law firm he once worked at. He also said he’ll resign from the board of social media start-up Waywire Inc. The mayor has said those trips attracted $400 million in philanthropy to Newark, where one-in-four people live in poverty.

“The growth has been in Cory Booker’s bank account,” Lonegan said. “That’s not leadership. That’s using your position to gain wealth, and the only person who’s gained wealth is Cory Booker.”

For his part, Booker did his best to paint Lonegan as out of step with voters in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 700,000 voters.

“Because a small group of fringe folks are not getting their way, they will shut down the government and play roulette with our full faith and credit,” Booker said. Lonegan is part of  “a small fringe group of Tea Party people who want to hijack the full faith and credit of the United States.”

The shortened race to succeed Democrat Frank Lautenberg, who died June 3, will culminate Oct. 16 in a special general election. Turnout is expected to be low, as voters go to the polls on a Wednesday.

The debate was taped at the Trenton studios of 6 ABC, and will air Sunday at 9:30 am EDT in the Philadelphia market and 11 am in New York . It was streamed live at the station’s  Web-site.

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