Sex Slander Stirs Senate Squabble

Democratic Newark Mayor Cory Booker and his U.S. Senate opponent, Republican Party nominee Steve Lonegan

Democratic Newark Mayor Cory Booker and his U.S. Senate opponent, Republican Party nominee Steve Lonegan

STATE — Democrats called on Republican Gov. Chris Christie to withdraw his support from GOP U.S. Senate nominee Steve Lonegan for comments about the sexuality of Democratic Newark Mayor Cory Booker. Those remarks have been widely described as “homophobic” and out of touch with New Jersey voters.

Appearing on Steve Malzberg’s national radio and TV show, Lonegan ignited a firestorm when he said that Booker is ambiguous about his sexuality to secure the gay vote.

“It is despicable that in 2013 (Lonegan) would claim that being gay means you cannot fit his outdated, 1950s-era definition of manliness,” said state Sen. Barbara Buono, the Democratic candidate for governor.

“Steve Lonegan’s comments are expressions of prejudice towards every member of the LGBT community that will hinder progress towards equality and justice for everyone,” said state Sen. Raymond Lesniak. “Mr. Booker’s sexuality doesn’t matter, but Mr. Lonegan’s words and attitudes do.”

Lonegan said he heard Booker “likes to go out at 3 o’clock in the morning for a manicure and a pedicure.” In comparison, Lonegan said he likes “a good Scotch and a cigar.”

“What does it say to our youth when a candidate for the United States Senate goes on national television and makes blatantly homophobic comments?” asked Troy Stevenson, the head of Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s largest gay rights group.

Distancing himself from the arch-conservative special election candidate, Christie said: “I don’t think it is any shock to anybody that Steve Lonegan and I say things differently and we don’t agree on every issue.”

Christie, who has endorsed Lonegan, is running for re-election.

“I don’t care if Cory Booker is gay or straight, the problem is he is too liberal for New Jersey,” said Lonegan, who later claimed that his comments were not homophobic and that he did not want to focus on Booker’s “Hollywood lifestyle.”

“Maybe that helps him get the gay vote, by acting ambiguous,” said Lonegan, the former New Jersey head for the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity.

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