For Cory Booker and Steve Lonegan, the four-day-old shutdown of the federal government underscores the stark policy differences between the U.S. Senate candidates on the role and size of federal government, the Affordable Care Act, and the three-year battle between President Obama and the GOP-controlled House that has plunged Washington into gridlock and fiscal crisis.
Heading into their first debate tonight, it is a battle both Booker and Lonegan welcome, but for very different reasons.
For Lonegan, a conservative true-believer who would be more comfortable running in Rand Paul’s Kentucky than in moderate New Jersey, the Republican House’s willingness to furlough 780,000 federal workers in an effort to force Obama to roll back the Affordable Care Act is a proper exercise of congressional power to curtail the growth of the federal government.
Lonegan believes voters will agree with him when they vote in the October 15 special election for U.S. Senate, regardless of what the polls show and regardless of whether most federal offices are still shuttered on the day of the election because of Washington gridlock. “The entire state is going to cast a referendum on Obamacare,” Lonegan declared, making it clear he would regard his victory as a policy mandate.
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