With polls suggesting a tightening race and only a few days remaining in the United States Senate contest in New Jersey, thousands of people gathered at a racetrack here to watch Sarah Palin endorse the Republican candidate, Steve Lonegan.
Sarah Palin, right, backed Steve Lonegan, shown with his wife, Lorraine, with their daughters, Katherine, left, and Brooke.
“Something big is happening here; it’s called momentum,” said Ms. Palin, the former Alaska governor who was John McCain’s running mate during the 2008 presidential election. “The country knows it, the media knows it.”
Recent polls have shown Mr. Lonegan, a former mayor of Bogota, N.J., and a businessman, gaining ground on his nationally known Democratic rival, Mayor Cory A. Booker of Newark. The election is on Wednesday.
The surge has surprised many who thought the special election to fill the seat that became vacant upon the death this year of Senator Frank R. Lautenburg, a veteran Democrat, would be a landslide victory for Mr. Booker.
While Mr. Booker maintains a 12-point lead in the polls, Mr. Lonegan has gained traction in part by framing the election as a referendum on Mr. Booker’s celebrity.
“My opponent, Cory Booker, was anointed by Hollywood; he was anointed by Oprah,” Mr. Lonegan said. “California doesn’t need a third senator.”
More than 2,000 supporters of Mr. Lonegan’s crammed beside a dirt racetrack in front of a bus emblazoned with “Tea Party Express.” Many hoisted yellow flags that said “Don’t Tread on Me.” Most raised iPhones to snap photos of Ms. Palin.