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Booker's opponent says sexuality speculation 'weird'

By CNN Political Unit
updated 2:21 PM EDT, Wed August 28, 2013

(CNN) -- Steve Lonegan, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in New Jersey, said in an interview Tuesday that ongoing chatter about rival Cory Booker's sexuality was "weird," and that he personally likes "being a guy."

The response was prompted by an interview that Booker, the mayor of Newark, gave to The Washington Post this week in which he said he wasn't bothered when people speculate whether he's straight or gay.

"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. I hope you are not voting for me because you are making the presumption that I'm straight,'" Booker, a Democrat, told the paper.

Lonegan said in an interview with the conservative online publication Newsmax that he found Booker's comments "weird."

"As a guy, I personally like being a guy," he said. "I don't know if you saw the stories last year. They've been out for quite a bit about how he likes to go out at three o'clock in the morning for a manicure and a pedicure."

Booker, in an August interview with DuJour Magazine, said the nail care regime was prompted by an ex-girlfriend.

"Being a public figure, people talk smack about you, so I found this 24-hour mani-pedi place and go in the middle of the night. It's this guilty pleasure I have," Booker said in the interview. "Look, manis are good, but pedis - there's something . . . transformative."

Lonegan described Booker's routine as a "fetish," claiming his own indulgences were "a good Scotch and a cigar."

"That's my fetish but we'll just compare the two," Lonegan said.

Recent public polling shows Booker the heavy favorite in New Jersey's Senate race. According to a Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll released last week, Booker leads Lonegan 54%-38% among those likely to vote in New Jersey's Oct. 16 special election. The survey was conducted following landslide primary victories by both Booker and Lonegan, the former mayor of the northern New Jersey town of Bogota.

A Quinnipiac University poll conducted at the beginning of the month, prior to the primary elections, indicated Booker with a 25 percentage point lead over Lonegan. The winner of the special election will finish the term of the late Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died earlier this year.

CNN's Kevin Liptak and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

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