By Lara Seligman - 08/27/13 10:43 PM EDT
Steve Lonegan, the New Jersey Republican running against Newark Mayor Cory Booker for the U.S. Senate, called Booker's reaction to speculation on his sexuality "weird."
The rising Democratic star had described speculation that he might be gay as "wonderful."
“It’s kind of weird,” Lonegan, the former mayor of Bogota, N.J., said in an interview Tuesday night when asked about Booker’s remarks by Newsmax’s Steve Malzberg. “As a guy, I personally like being a guy.”
“It was described as his peculiar fetish,” Lonegan said. “I have a more peculiar fetish. I like a good Scotch and a cigar; that’s my fetish, but we’ll just compare the two.”
Lonegan also suggested that Booker was “acting ambiguous” about his sexuality to appeal to gay voters.
Booker, who has received President Obama’s endorsement in the Senate race and is heavily favored to win the October special election, told The Washington Post in a wide-ranging interview that his failure to settle down with a “life partner” has lead to rumors about whether he might be gay.
He said he has welcomed the speculation.
“And people who think I’m gay, some part of me thinks it’s wonderful. Because I want to challenge people on their homophobia. I love seeing on Twitter when someone says I’m gay, and I say, ‘So what does it matter if I am? So be it,’” said Booker, who has a huge social media presence. “’I hope you are not voting for me because you are making the presumption that I’m straight.’”
Booker and Lonegan are contending for the Senate seat previously held by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) who died this June.