New Jersey Senate candidate Steve Lonegan released an inspirational television ad today that may give a significant boost to his campaign to defeat the much more widely recognized Cory Booker.

“The American Dream” tells the story of Lonegan’s childhood, when his father died and he was diagnosed with a condition that caused him to go blind.

Lonegan’s family was told by the New Jersey Commission for the Blind that he would “end up weaving baskets” as a result of the condition.

“By the time I got out of college, I became a client of the New Jersey Commission for the Blind,” Lonegan said, “and a Social Security disability recipient.”

But Lonegan didn’t accept that fate. Instead, he interviewed at a small cabinet dealership and offered to prove himself by working for two weeks without pay.

“I struggled for years, but I woke up one day in 1988 and I was the largest kitchen cabinet dealer in the tri-state area,” Lonegan said.

“I went from being a Social Security disability recipient to a successful businessman. Not because of a government program, but because of the free market economy, because of an opportunity given by business, not by government,” he said. “That’s what America is all about.”

Lonegan, the Republican former Mayor of Bogota, trails Democrat Booker by 12 points, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll of likely voters. Booker is Mayor of Newark.

There is no other Quinnipiac poll of likely voters with which to compare the present numbers, but the most recent previous poll of registered voters showed Booker with a 25-point lead.

Quinnipiac shows a much smaller gap than other polls found. A Stockton College poll showed Booker with a 26-point lead, and a Rutgers-Eagleton poll two weeks ago showed Booker leading by 35 points.

The special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by the passing of Sen. Frank Lautenberg will be held on Oct. 16.