By John Celock
SUMMIT, N.J. – A candidate for the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) this year says that he’s not scared about the long odds at unseating the first term Democrat.
Brian Goldberg, a businessman from Essex County, says that Booker is vulnerable, citing what he said was Booker’s low winning percentage in last year’s special election. Booker, a former Newark mayor, defeated Republican Steve Lonegan by 11 points, after starting the special election as the overwhelming favorite. Booker is filling the remaining 14 months of the term of former Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) who died last year, with this year’s race being for a full six-year term.
Goldberg said that his “positive message” and business experience could lead him to defeat Booker. He questioned whether Booker, who once lived by choice in a Newark housing project, can relate to the average Garden State resident.
“He has lived a very insulated life,” Goldberg said. “How does he relate to the typical New Jersey voter?”
Goldberg cited Booker’s being a football player at Stanford University and a Rhodes Scholar, along with serving on and off in elective office since 1998 as keeping him isolated from voters. He said that elected officials tend to be treated differently by voters, while he is able to have direct conversations on the campaign trail.
Goldberg is one of four largely unknown Republicans seeking the GOP nomination in the June 3 primary. He is joined on the ballot by 1978 GOP U.S. Senate nominee Jeff Bell, professor Murray Sabrin and businessman Rick Pezzullo. Sabrin was the 1997 Libertarian nominee for governor and sought the 2000 GOP U.S. Senate nomination. Goldberg has been active in Essex County GOP politics, including a 2011 stint as campaign treasurer for Cedar Grove Mayor Joseph Chiusolo’s unsuccessful bid for county freeholder.
The upbeat Goldberg, who was spending the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend shaking hands at a street fair in the GOP-leaning Summit, said that he knows he can win next week to take on Booker. He cites his backing by 10 county GOP organizations out of 14 that endorsed. In New Jersey, backing by a county party can help swing votes to a candidate in the primary, including granting the candidate better ballot placement.
Goldberg is focusing his campaign on job creation, fiscal responsibility, repealing Obamacare and the Second Amendment. Goldberg said that he is willing to promote Second Amendment issues as a candidate in Democratic-leaning New Jersey, which has adopted some of the nation’s strictest gun control laws. He said what doesn’t deter him is his own personal background with guns.
“I’ve never fired or held a real firearm in my life,” Goldberg said. “It is about an individual’s right to defend their property.”
He said that the protection aspect of the Second Amendment needs to be addressed in new gun policies and noted that current gun control laws are not helping reduce gun violence. He said that he wants to address getting guns out of the hands of criminals, including in the inner cities. Goldberg said current gun control proposals are not taking guns from criminals but rather from people who will not be able to protect themselves from criminals.
In terms of Obamacare, Goldberg is proposing a repeal of the health care law and replacing it with a law that addresses health care costs. He said this including tort reform and a focus on new innovation.
Goldberg downplayed recent allegations by a former campaign aide that he skirted federal campaign finance laws by paying the aide through his company and not via the campaign. The story was reported last week by “Chasing New Jersey” on WWOR-TV. Goldberg told The Celock Report that the aide had been a volunteer who then inquired about a vacant administrative assistant post at his concrete company. He said he gave the aide the concrete post at the same pay and duties as the previous assistant. He said the aide has since left the company and chose to allege the finance irregularity.
Goldberg stressed he is ready for the task at hand and that he’ll attract more attention if he captures the GOP nomination to face Booker.
“It doesn’t scare me,” Goldberg said of the odds.