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Senate race tightening between Booker and Lonegan

Glenn Townes | 10/3/2013, 3:39 p.m.

A new poll shows that the race for the U.S. Senate seat between Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Republican candidate Steve Lonegan has narrowed in the past few weeks, with about two weeks remaining before the special election.

Both men are vying for the coveted seat that was held by longtime politico Frank Lautenberg. The feisty senator passed away earlier this year with 15 months left in his term. Booker and Lonegan both won special primaries held in August.

In August, Booker held a 25 to 30 percent lead over Lonegan, according to various polls. Booker receives the most support from women and minorities. Lonegan, who is a virtual unknown across parts of the Garden State, garners support from men and independents.

Some attribute the drop in Booker’s lead to a recent crime wave in Newark, where 10 people were murdered in the course of 10 days. Others contend that Lonegan’s shady shenanigans and Booker bashing may have swayed some voters. For example, two weeks ago, Lonegan raised the issue of Booker’s sexuality and poked fun at the mayor’s penchant for manicures and pedicures. Lonegan called them “fetishes” and said his own fetishes included manlier sorts of things like booze and cigars. Said Lonegan, “It’s kind of weird. As a guy, I personally like being a guy!”

In a brief interview following the barb-throwing, Booker dismissed the taunts and said he wants to focus on the issues that will put him in the Senate. The special election will be held on Oct. 16.