Today’s the special election to fill the rest of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s term of office, with Republican Steve Lonegan playing David to Cory Booker’s Goliath.  Originally, this was going to be a runaway win for Booker, but a lackluster campaign and a series of questions about his lackluster performance as Mayor of Newark — and even whether he lives there — dented his momentum.  He’s still expected to win, but Lonegan might still make him sweat:

After an abbreviated but heated two-month campaign, polls are now open and voters can cast their ballots in the special U.S. Senate election between Democrat Cory Booker and Republican Steve Lonegan today.

The two men are running to fill the final 15 months of the late U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s (D-N.J.) term in a New Jersey election that has no precedent, on a Wednesday in the middle of October.

Booker plans to vote early — at 6:30 a.m. in Newark.

Lonegan isn’t far behind. He’ll be casting his vote at his Bogota polling place at 7:00a.m.

Voters have until 8:00p.m. to get to their polling places , which are open to all of the state’s 5.5 million registered voters, though only a fraction are expected to show up.

I suspect that we’ll get an early call on this election, but not as early as people expected a month or so ago.  Special elections are notoriously unpredictable, and rely on turnout to a greater degree than regularly scheduled elections.  Wednesday elections may be even more unpredictable, so don’t be surprised by a few surprises today.

Speaking of surprises, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono tried to bring a few to last night’s debate with Chris Christie. She accused the incumbent Republican of acting like a bully and a political boss by, er, garnering more Democratic endorsements than she’s gotten. Christie was ready and threw a pretty telling counter-punch:

But the heat really turned up during their televised debate at Montclair State University when the two clashed over Republican Christie’s many deals with the Democrats.

Christie defended the alliances he made with Democrats. Buono called him the master of backroom deals made with “party bosses.”

Buono referred to Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, a Democrat who endorsed Christie and is accused of misusing campaign funds, but never used his name.

“You’re not interested in cleaning up that boardwalk empire of back room political bosses,” Buono said.

“Joe DiVincenzo is sitting in the front row and I’m proud to have his endorsement and you wish you did,” Christie said. “You want to start throwing stones tonight you better get out of your glass house.”

Buono tried smiling through that counter-punch, but it stung.  It was a weird attack anyway.  Was Buono trying to argue that she wouldn’t work with Republicans if given the chance? New Jersey might be blue, but it’s not that blue.  Besides, if you’ve given a speech on the state Senate floor praising the honesty and integrity of a man who ended up in prison for corruption, the clean-government platform really isn’t going to be very effective.  Not that it will make much difference anyway, as Buono’s got zero chance of getting within 25 points of Christie in three weeks, let alone becoming governor.