Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Steve Lonegan blames government shutdown for defeat

By Richard K. Barry

It's good to have things to blame. It's a lot easier than saying that you lost because "the people" liked your opponent more than you. It's rare that a defeated politician stands at the microphone on election night to say, "I lost because the voters made a rational decision that they would rather be led by my esteemed opponent."

New Jersey GOP Senate candidate Steve Lonegan certainly wasn't about to say that. What he did say was that he lost because of the government shutdown in Washington, which, everyone agrees, was largely blamed on Republicans.
"There is no doubt in my mind or in the minds of any of my campaign staff that the shutdown cost me the election," Lonegan told the Star-Ledger in a "post-mortem interview" Monday. "If I had known it was going to happen and that it was going to be handled so badly in Washington, I wouldn't have run for the Senate."

Lonegan added that his internal polling showed him "gaining fast" with "enormous" momentum before the shutdown.

Lonegan, who issued a statement on Oct. 10 supporting House Republicans on the shutdown, blamed GOP lawmakers in Washington who "fumbled" strategy and were unable to capitalize on problems with the rollout of President Obama's health insurance exchange website.

No doubt there was some tightening in the race over the final two weeks, and that the shutdown didn't help Lonegan, but Booker ended up winning by 11 points, which is a healthy margin.

Fact is that in politics, nobody really cares why you think you lost. In any case, I don't think this was the reason.

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