4 NJ Democrats hold 1st debate in US Senate race

The four New Jersey Democrats running for the U.S. Senate seat of the late liberal Democrat Frank Lautenberg are debating for the first time in the abbreviated campaign.

Though they have similar views, some differences immediately emerged Monday.

DemDonkey_small 4 NJ Democrats hold 1st debate in US Senate race

Newark Mayor Cory Booker and state Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver talked about striking a balance between privacy rights and intelligence gathering, while Congressmen Rush Holt and Frank Pallone took harder lines against intelligence agencies gathering data on citizens.

The party primary is Aug. 13. Two Republicans also are running. The winner of the Oct. 16 election will fill the remainder of Lautenberg’s term.

Democrats challenged GOP Gov. Chris Christie’s decision not to schedule the special election on the same day as the November general election. A court ruled in Christie’s favor.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

All four Democrats running for the U.S. Senate in New Jersey are scheduled to debate for the first time

Monday, eight days before the special primary election.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Rep. Rush Holt, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and Rep. Frank Pallone have all said they will be at Montclair State University on Monday night for a debate scheduled to be shown live on NJTV. They’re all expected at another debate Thursday, too.

Booker has eschewed earlier forums that his opponents attended.

The winner of the Aug. 13 Democratic primary will face Republican Alieta Eck or Steve Lonegan in an Oct. 16 special general election.

The two Republicans, who have similar views on most issues, met last week in a debate that appears to be the only time they will face off. Eck has been appearing mostly at tea party and local Republican meetings while Lonegan has been holding news conferences and said Monday that he would be tweeting critiques of the Democrats as they debate.

The winner of the special general election will fill the remaining 15 months of the term of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died June 3 at 89.

It’s been an unusual election because it’s on a compressed timeline and includes unorthodox election days — a mid-August primary and an October election held on a Wednesday.

Campaigns and analysts alike are expecting low voter turnouts.

The Democratic primary includes an unusually high-profile and experienced field.

Booker, who was already raising money for a possible 2104 Senate campaign, has been on the air with television commercials the longest, though Pallone has also run ads and Holt’s first started airing Monday, as the race took on a new sense of urgency.

Booker put out a release Monday saying that Holt’s ad was misstating some of Booker’s positions. Also on Monday, former Monmouth County Democratic chairman Victor Scudiery announced he was paying his own money to send postcards to likely Democratic voters in the statewide — where Pallone lives — urging them to vote for Booker over the local congressman.

On many key issues, the four candidates have similar views, but some differences could emerge during the debate.

The two members of Congress are likely to emphasize their records while Oliver talks about her experience in a legislative leadership post and Booker about a willingness to work with Republicans on some issues.