New Jersey Republicans like the idea of Matt Rooney running for the United States Senate.
The founder of Save Jersey, a conservative blog that boasts a large following among Republican activists in the state, Rooney has built a name for himself among New Jersey’s conservatives through posts and frequent appearances on Chasing News, which is carried by Fox-owned affiliates in New Jersey’s media markets.
While Rooney, a 33-year-old lawyer, has not publicly indicated any interest in taking on Democrat Cory Booker next year, some Republicans seem interested in his candidacy.
“I think Matt’s a great guy,” Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (R-Holmdel) said. “So if he wants to do it, I think he could do a good job.”
Taking on Booker, who appears ready to simultaneously seek the Democratic presidential nomination while running for re-election to the U.S. Senate, would be an uphill battle for any Republican.
New Jersey has nearly 950,000 more registered Democrats than it does registered Republicans. The GOP hasn’t won a U.S. Senate seat in the state since 1972, when Republican Sen. Clifford Case last won reelection.
While he agreed the battle would be uphill, Essex County Republican Chairman Al Barlas doesn’t think that registration lead is insurmountable, at least not for Rooney.
“I think Matt has a very keen ability to break down an issue for folks to the point where they can truly understand it as opposed to talking in these platitudes that don’t actually help solve people’s problems,” Barlas said. “There is a significant registration advantage — you can’t deny that, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t run candidates to give voters a choice. And, I think Matt Rooney’s candidacy definitely gives voters a choice.”
The media-savvy Rooney could provide voters with a much different campaign than they’ve seen in recent years.
“I think Matt’s a great guy. He’s certainly getting the name out there for himself,” Assemblyman Bob Auth (R-Old Tappan) said. “He will certainly drag republicans towards the right in that particular plebiscite in the primary, so I’d be interested to see how that goes too.”
While Booker is crisscrossing the country in pursuit of the presidency, Rooney could gain free national exposure talking about Booker’s record as Newark mayor and, for the past five years, as a U.S. Senator.
“I don’t know him that well, but if he’s willing to do it, and he’s willing to put the time in knowing it’s an uphill battle, I think it’s great,” said State Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa).