by Mark J. Maygar, NJSpotlight.com
Liberal Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex) and Republican conservative Steve Lonegan could not be farther apart on the issues, but they face the same challenge: How does an underfunded underdog dismissed by the media and campaign cognoscenti run against a political superstar who occupies the political center, holds a commanding lead in the polls, pulls in millions of dollars in donations, and gets millions more in free air time on nationally broadcast TV shows?
For Buono and Lonegan, Labor Day not only marked the beginning of the traditional political season, but also the kickoff of a critical month in which they must begin to close the sizable gaps in their races against Republican Gov. Chris Christie and Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Cory Booker, or risk the likelihood that prospective donors and volunteers will write off their chances in what would then become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
While most pollsters, political scientists, and the national media have already anointed Christie and Booker, several New Jersey candidates for governor and U.S. Senate have closed similar Labor Day gaps by Election Day. However, only one -- Christine Todd Whitman in her narrow 1990 loss to U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley -- faced as steep a challenge as Buono and Lonegan in running against a national celebrity with a similarly overwhelming advantage in money, name recognition, organizational support, and expectation of victory.NJ Spotlight is an issue-driven news website that provides critical insight to New Jersey’s communities and businesses. It is non-partisan, independent, policy-centered and community-minded.