The Washington Times - June 10, 2013, 02:48PM

Newark Mayor Cory Booker enjoys a comfortable lead over Democratic rivals in New Jersey ahead of party and general elections this year to fill the Senate seat made vacant by the death of Frank Lautenberg, according to a new poll.

Mr. Booker would obtain 53 percent of the primary vote this August compared to 10 percent for Rep. Rush Holt and 9 percent for Rep. Frank Pallone, the poll by Quinnipiac University found.

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He also would top Republican Steven Lonegan, 54 percent to 27 percent, in a potential general election matchup on Oct. 16. The result is not surprising, since Democrats far outnumber Republicans in the Garden State.

New Jersey voters have a favorable opinion of Mr. Booker, 57 percent to 14 percent, while 25 percent of respondents didn’t know enough about him to form an opinion, the poll found.

“It’s Newark Mayor Cory Booker in a runaway in this first look at the special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat held by the late Frank Lautenberg,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a news release. “Who are those other guys? The record shows that Congressmen Frank Pallone and Rush Holt are big in their districts, but, state-wide, no one knows them.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tapped Jeffrey S. Chiesa, the state’s Republican attorney general and a longtime adviser, to serve in the seat until the election.

The last remaining World War II veteran in the Senate, Lautenberg died June 3 at age 89 from complications from viral pneumonia. He lay in repose Thursday in the well of the Senate chamber.