‘One of those eerie days:’ Menendez models, closed meetings and time ticking down in Booker v. Lonegan

NEWARK – The Ironbound at 2 p.m. had the look of a sleepy cow town more than swamp dog city.

Speaking on condition of anonymity a voter here in today’s U.S. Senate election told PolitickerNJ.com that he voted at 11:30 a.m.

He was the ninth voter of the day in his voting district.

This is supposed to Cory Booker world and yet to one insider, prodded by PolitickerNJ.com to offer a sense of how this is going in Essex County, “It’s one of those eerie days. There’s a cloak of secrecy over things.”

In Freehold Township in suburban Monmouth County, a voter went to the polls at 10:30 a.m.

“Am I the second person to vote?” he asked.

“No,” was the response. “You’re the 25th.”

The voter, whose neighbor packs a shotgun on a nightly roam of his backyard, guessed that the bulk of those are supporters of Republican Steve Lonegan.

Furrowed brow Democrats crowded into a noon power meeting to gauge the terrain, and one of them quickly summoned the 2006 model when U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) defeated state Sen. Tom Kean, Jr. (R-21).

Off year election. Nine point win for Menendez.

It seemed to fit, the Democratic source said, pointing out hopefully that the Christie Todd Whitman English saddle-riding voters will stay away from the movement conservative Lonegan, leaving him alone with the raw Tea Party vote.

To take a closer look, PolitickerNJ.com went to the Somerset County Clerk of Elections Office and walked down a long white corridor that looks like a setpiece in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The sight of a figure in gravity boots clinging to the wall probably wouldn’t elicit a double take.

The clerk appeared at the other end of an enormous office.

There was no sense of a deluge. No panic abided.

There was a decidedly off-day election day calm in the clerk’s voice.

“I don’t know what to tell you because I don’t know,” said the clerk of elections.

Across the street, the door was locked to the same Somerset County Republican headquarters where a photo of Millicent Fenwick adorns the wall.

There might have been a poster for Dick Zimmer on the wall.

PolitickerNJ.com placed a call to Ocean County, where sources said Lonegan consistently had well attended events through the final weeks of his campaign.

Asked about turnout, “It’s light,” said the source, who supplied absentee ballot results showing a 60-34% advantage for Lonegan.

Hudson appeared engaged for Booker, particulary North Hudson where power broker state Sen. Nick Sacco (D-32) wants to assert dominance over the county, and Jersey City, where the mayor’s chief field hand, Tom Bertoli, is active as a mechanic on the Booker payroll.

Newark’s North Ward was in gear, according to fixer Phil Alagia, but the East Ward had a moribond Election Day glow, and bellwether Bergen County, by the reckoning of one source, showed higher than expected activity in Republican towns. ‘One of those eerie days:’ Menendez models, closed meetings and time ticking down in Booker v. Lonegan