With voting just days away in NJ Senate race, Tea Party arrives to lend support

FILE:  Oct. 9, 2013.: Senate candidates Cory Booker, left, and Steve Lonegan shake hands before a debate at Rowan University, Glassboro, N.J.

FILE: Oct. 9, 2013.: Senate candidates Cory Booker, left, and Steve Lonegan shake hands before a debate at Rowan University, Glassboro, N.J.  (AP)

Tea Party star Sarah Palin, in the final days of the tightening race in New Jersey for a Senate seat, is lending her support to the Republican candidate, telling voters this weekend the "eyes of America" are on the state.

The race between front-running Democratic candidate Cory Booker, the Newark mayor, and Republican Steve Lonegan has narrowed ahead of Wednesday's voting, with Booker’s lead shrinking from as much as 27 percentage points in June to just 13 points, according to an averaging of polls by the website RealClearPolitics.

The race is for the open seat of Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died in June. And its outcome will help decide whether Democrats can retain control of the Senate in 2014.

On Saturday, Palin told a rally at the New Egypt Speedway that Lonegan, a former mayor, would fight against ObamaCare and stand with Tea Party senators including Ted Cruz of Texas.

"You have the momentum with Steve's campaign," she said. "The rest of the country knows."

The 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate and former Alaska governor told the crowd to vote to defy the "fallacy" that a conservative Tea Party candidate cannot win in a Democratic-leaning New Jersey.

Lonegan, who spent the weekend campaigning across the state, wants to repeal ObamaCare and "join those conservatives who stand up for constitutional rights."

The rally comes a day after Lonegan fired Rick Shaftan, one of his top advisers, who had bashed Booker in a profane interview, questioning his sexuality. Lonegan, 57, spent the day campaigning throughout central New Jersey.

The charismatic Booker, one of the Democratic Party's rising stars, was supposed to have a cakewalk to the Senate. And he has also gotten help from high-profile supporters, including Oprah Winfrey, who has helped in fundraising, and Eva Longoria, who has campaigned with him.

“My sense is that the numbers reflect complacency in the Booker campaign,” Ross Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers University, last week told FoxNews.com. “The Booker people wrote off Lonegan as a right-wing crank and small-town mayor. Booker was on the fast track to election, and there was a growing realization that he saw the race wrapped up and that’s always a mistake.”

Lonegan has spent just $1.36 million on the race, compared with Booker's $11.5 million.

Booker, 44, resumed campaigning Saturday after canceling all events Thursday and Friday after his father died.

He made stops in northern New Jersey, telling a crowd in Paterson that the past two days have been difficult, but he still feels his father's love.

Booker said the race was a chance to show that "shutdown politics don't work," referring to the partial government shutdown that is happening because Washington lawmakers are failing to reach a spending deal.  

He also chided Lonegan for saying during their debate last week that Newark is so crime-ridden that the Passaic River is filled with dead bodies.

Booker said it shows disrespect for New Jersey's urban areas.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.