The campaign for Republican candidate for U.S. Senate sent out a racially-charged message on Twitter during Thursday’s Democratic Senate candidate debate, according to published reports.
Lonegan tweeted at the beginning of the Democratic primary debate for people to monitor the staff Twitter feed.
The tweet read: "#breaking just leaked - Cory Booker’s foreign policy debate prep notes,” and below it was a map of heavily African-American Newark. Scrawled over the map in different places was, “West Africa, Guyana, Portugal, Brazil."
Another annotation, pointing to Newark, read, "Middle East," followed by "Afghanistan, Pakistan, plus Bangladesh and Trinidad," according to the Politico report.
The Booker campaign shot back at Lonegan, calling him "misguided" and saying no one should be surprised.
"The Lonegan campaign’s tweet is inappropriate, offensive and fundamentally out of step with New Jersey values," Addisu Demissie, Booker campaign manager said. "It’s also not surprising. This is the same misguided person who was offended by an advertisement simply because it was in Spanish. We need leaders who will lift up our communities, not tear them down – leaders like Cory Booker."
Thomas Roberts, a spokesman for Lonegan opponent Alieta Eck, insinuated that racism might be behind Lonegan's refusal to debate Eck at an event sponsored by the NAACP in a tweet:
"So maybe now it's finally becoming clear why @lonegan refused to meet with the NAACP on Tuesday?" the tweet says.
Rick Shaftan, a Lonegan advisor, said the insinuation was wrong. Lonegan, he said, simply does not debate in front of "liberal'' groups like the NAACP.
Shaftan also said no apology would be issued for the tweet.
"The candidate said take it down and it was taken down,'' Shaftan said. "This was a staffer who had a weird sense of humor but no one thought it was funny and it was taken down. It won't happen again, I can tell you that.''