Republican Steve Lonegan has fired top strategist Rick Shaftan after he questioned Newark Mayor Cory Booker's sexuality in an X-rated interview with Talking Points Memo
Shaftan on Thursday suggested that Booker's "odd" Twitter messages
sent to a stripper would likely push voters over to picking Lonegan to fill late Sen. Frank Lautenberg's Senate seat, Politico reports.
"It was just weird...like what a gay guy would say," Shaftan told TPM, referring to Portland Ore. stripper Lynsie Lee's "hot" physical attributes. "It's the way he was talking to her. It's just like there was no sexual interest at all. I don't know. To me, if I was single and you know like some stripper was tweeting me, I might take advantage of the perks of the office, you know?"
Lonegan said that Shaftan's comments are "not reflective of my views or that of my campaign. His comments are distasteful and offensive, and his contract as a vendor for my campaign will be terminated immediately," Politico reports
The ax came for Shaftan with less than a week to go in the race, with voting being held on Wednesday.
His comments went beyond Booker's online conversations with Lee, which the Booker campaign says just prove that he "remains accessible and exchanges with people."
Shaftan insisted it had to be impossible for Booker not to notice topless photographs Lee posted on her Twitter page, and that people have to wonder "who does this guy really want to work for?"
Booker had held a double-digit lead in the polls, but a new survey
shows Lonegan is closing in.
The race between became even more heated this week when Lonegan jeered the Newark mayor in a debate, deriding his city as a crime-ridden "big black hole."
Shaftan also commented about Booker's Hollywood fundraisers, love of pedicures and comments he has made himselfabout being unconcerned about speculation over his sexuality.
"It's like, dude, you're bringing all this up yourself."
Shaftan also suggested Booker now has a place among politicians' greatest sex scandals, alongside Gary Hart, whose presidential hopes ended over an affair, and former Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig who was arrested in an airport gay sex sting.
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