SECAUCUS – Hundreds packed a crowded Secaucus hotel conference room and cheered the winner of the Republican primary to the stage Tuesday night.
Steve Lonegan, the former Bogota mayor, marched to the microphone a little over an hour after the polls closed to claim a victory in the GOP primary. Lonegan is set to challenge Democratic Newark Mayor Cory Booker in the October special election.
“In no uncertain terms … we’re going to deliver the first Republican senator in New Jersey in 42 years,” Lonegan exclaimed.
“We’re not going to parse our words,” he said. “We know what we believe in. We’re going to say what we believe, and when we go to Washington, D.C., we’re going to do what we say.”
Lonegan handily defeated his GOP opponent, Dr. Alieta Eck, in Tuesday’s special primary. He set his sights on Booker, whose very name drew jeers from the crowd when mentioned.
“The difference between Mr. Booker and myself could not be clearer,” Lonegan said.
Cheers erupted in the crowded hotel conference room earlier in the night as news broke that Lonegan bagged the Republican ticket within an hour of the polls closing.
Campaign supporters started the victory party by reciting the pledge of allegiance and singing the Star Spangled Banner. The night quickly turned into a victory party with Lonegan being the favorite to win in the lead up to the primary election.
“There are nine weeks between now and General Election day in October,” said Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), adding, “And it is your job and it is my job to make sure there is a resounding victory in October.”
Lance was joined at the victory party by state lawmakers who took to the microphone before Lonegan.
“He needs to go to Washington and he needs to beat Cory Booker,” exclaimed Assemblywoman Alison McHose (R-24), who spoke ahead of Lonegan taking the stage.
“We’re not a bunch of desperate housewives. We are average taxpayers who care about New Jersey,” she said to cheers. “He is going to go there and represent us, the average taxpayer, and really do the job we deserve.”
Sen. Michael Doherty (R-23) echoed McHose’s comments, arguing Lonegan is the right person to go up against Booker.
“He’s a bulldog and he’s persistent, and he takes the fight to the opposition,” he said. “Steve Lonegan is totally prepared for this race.”
The crowd responded with hoots and hollers, and bursts of “hear, hear!”
“Cory Booker is being funded by Hollywood,” said Barbara Stinson of the West Jersey Tea Party.
“We have had enough and we are going to change the Senate by working hard to elect Steve Lonegan for the position,” she said. “Do you love America? Do you love her? Fight for her! Fight for America!”