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Associated Press – Lonegan Has Starring Role in Documentary

21 Sep

Associated Press

Lonegan Has Starring Role in Documentary
Updated: Sunday, May. 1, 2005 – 2:53 PM

By ANGELA DELLI SANTI
Associated Press Writer

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) – A documentary examining the oddities of a small-town mayor’s race may not win Steve Lonegan any acting awards, but it will give the underdog candidate for governor some free screen time before the GOP primary.

Considered the most conservative of New Jersey’s seven Republican gubernatorial contenders, Lonegan is front and center in “Anytown USA,” a 93-minute film lauded at last month’s Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival.

The documentary, debuting Sunday in New Jersey at the Trenton Film Festival, looks at the 2003 mayoral race in the tiny Bergen County town of Bogota (pronounced Ba-GO-da). Lonegan, a tough-talking, fiscally conservative incumbent, was running for re-election after angering many by restricting school spending.

Lonegan, who is legally blind, was challenged by Democrat Fred Pesce and Dave Musikant, a former football player who lost his sight because of a brain tumor and is running as an independent write-in candidate.

“It’s a microcosm of the national political scene,” said director Kristian Fraga, whose film won the emerging filmmakers best documentary award in Minneapolis. “We hope when people see it, they’ll pay attention to the importance of voting.”

Besides featuring two legally blind candidates, the Bogota mayor’s race had other peculiarities. Doug Friedline, who helped Jesse “The Body” Ventura win the Minnesota governor’s race, signed on to help Musikant with his write-in campaign.

In the documentary, Lonegan at times comes off as strong-willed and mean-spirited. Still, he pronounced the film “terrific.”

“It caught the essence of a local campaign. What it didn’t show was that Dave, Fred and I were friendly with each other,” Lonegan said.

Lonegan said the film is unlikely to affect his chances in the June 7 Republican primary, where he trails front-runners Doug Forrester and Bret Schundler by as much as 30 percentage points, according to recent polls. Nor will it directly help his campaign coffers.

“Unfortunately, I don’t get any royalties,” he said.

(Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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