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Special Election Underdog Meets With Club for Growth #NJSEN

Steve Lonegan, the underdog and likely Republican nominee in New Jersey’s Senate special election, is making the rounds in Washington, D.C., this week.

The goal of the meetings: to prove there is a path to victory in the solidly Democratic Garden State and encourage financial assistance in the Oct. 16 special. Newark Mayor Cory Booker, for whom Oprah is headlining a fundraiser Thursday night, is favored to win the Democratic nomination.

With less than two weeks to go before the Aug. 13 primaries, Lonegan met with the Club for Growth and is scheduled to sit down Friday with the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Lonegan, 57 and legally blind, said in an interview with CQ Roll Call and the Rothenberg Political Report that he was also planning to meet with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul in an effort to secure endorsements from both Paul and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — who publicly feuded in recent days.

He’s been endorsed by five of the state’s six Republican members of Congress so far and hopes to soon lock up the backing of Rep. Christopher H. Smith, R-N.J.

Booker led Lonegan, 53 percent to 30 percent, in a Quinnipiac University poll released July 9. In other matchups, Lonegan was statistically tied with Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. and Rush D. Holt but never took more than 37 percent.

Lonegan, the former state director of Americans for Prosperity, said he is “not too conservative for New Jersey.” Indeed, he intends to make the race “a referendum on the Obama agenda” and said “individual liberty” is the core message of his campaign.

He’s expecting a low-turnout special election, with around 1.2 million voters — less than half the New Jersey electorate in 2012, when President Barack Obama and Sen. Robert Menendez both won with 58 percent of the vote. Lonegan also believes he’ll need $3 million to win, though even at that figure he’d still likely be vastly outspent by the Democratic nominee.

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