Booker Makes Senate Run Official
Democrat Cory Booker has entered New Jersey's special Senate election to fill the seat left open by the death of Frank Lautenberg.
Booker was joined for announcement in Newark at the headquarters of Audible, Inc by former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley, a former pro basketball player who for 18 years held the seat Booker is seeking. Bradley endorsed Booker and called him "the right person for the right office at the right time." He added, "I think he can be a great United States senator."
In his announcement, Booker remembered Lautenberg as "truly a giant in the United States Senate."
“Democracy is not a spectator sport,” Booker said at the event held at the company that moved to downtown Newark in 2007 according to NBC News. “Now as much as at any time we must bring people together, we must get actually into the complicated, difficult, messy arena and take on the difficult challenges.”
He believes he can help get past the political gridlock in Washington. "I am here because I believe that people who care, can find solutions to even the most difficult problems. I am here because when we work together, I know from experience that there is no problem we can't solve," Booker said.
He said he is "saddened" by the circumstances that have led him to break his promise to serve out his full term as mayor. "I had great plans to finish (the term). But the reality is we have put so much into the pipeline here in Newark," according to Politickernj.com.
No Negative Campaigning
Booker said "we have no intention of going negative" when asked about primary opponents Congressmen Rush Holt and Frank Pallone.
Politico reports that political consultant Brad Lawrence, who has worked for both Booker and Pallone has signed up for Booker's Senate campaign.
Booker's next step will be to submit 1,000 signatures to the state Secretary of State's office by 4 p.m. in order to appear on the special election primary ballot in August. 12th district Congressman Holt has announced his intention to run while Pallone from the 4th Congressional district is expected to submit signatures by deadline but has not scheduled any events announcing his candidacy.
Assembly Speaker Shelia Oliver is also likely to join the race. On the Republican side only political activist Steve Lonegan has announced.
Governor Christie announced a special election to be held in October with a primary vote in August to fill the seat following the death of Lautenberg on Monday. State Attorney General Jeff Chiesa, a self described conservative Republican, will temporarily fill the seat. He says he will not run in the special election.
Reaction To A Run
Booker is already receiving support for his campaign. "We think Cory has the leadership skills and values to really move the country forward over the next decade, couple decades," Steve Phillips, chairman of the poitical group PAC+ told the Philadelphia Inquirer. They will announce a 60-day voter awareness plan next week to get out the vote for Booker.
Facebook founder Steve Zuckerberg, who has not registered a party affiliation and his wife "are hosting a fundraiser for Mayor Booker in the coming days,” Sarah Feinberg, a Facebook spokeswoman, said yesterday by e-mail to Bloomberg News. A time and place were not announced.
It won't be Zuckerberg's first encounter with New Jersey politics. He and his wife hosted a fundraiser for Governor Chris Christie's re-election campaign on February 14 . They also donated $100 million to help Newark schools during a 2010 appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s television show in Booker a joint appearance with Booker and Christie.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee is already on the attack against Booker's candidacy. "It remains to be seen whether Cory Booker the candidate can match Cory Booker’s celebrity persona in this kind of race, since campaigning is so much different from party hopping in Hollywood, appearing on television, or tweeting," Brad Dayspring, the committee’s communications director told the Star Ledger.
Booker's run for Lautenberg's seat has been expected since he posted a video just before Christmas expressing interest in the seat. He also filed with the Federal Election Commission so he could raise funds for a campaign but ran into criticism from Lautenberg's advisors and the 89-year-old himself that he was not "respectful" towards the 5-term Senator who at the time was still deciding his own political future.
“”I have four children, I love each one of them. I can’t tell you that one of them wasn’t occasionally disrespectful, so I gave them a spanking and everything was OK," he told He told the Philadelphia Inquirer of Booker’s challenge.
At the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce dinner in Washington at the end of the annual Ride To Washington train ride, Lautenberg said “I’m disappointed that Cory Booker couldn’t be here tonight. I’d think spending time out of the city was one of his favorite activities. Perhaps we were too close to Newark,” said Lautenberg according to buzzfeed.com. Booker had addressed many of the same people in Newark at the start of the trip.
Booker has 1.4 million followers on Twitter — or five for every resident of the city where he's the mayor. He tweets frequently, answering questions about city services, posting about his workouts and, perhaps most often, trying to provide inspiration.
He's frequently gotten public attention, from staging a hunger strike to protest drug-dealing to rescuing a woman from a burning home last year. His life story is also captivating. He grew up in Harrington Park as the son of civil rights activists who were among the first black executives at IBM, went to Stanford, was a Rhodes Scholar, earned a law degree from Yale and took a job with the Urban Justice Center, which provides legal and other services to the vulnerable. He also moved to a public housing complex in Newark.
Booker started fundraising for a 2014 Senate campaign after announcing he would not run against Christie for governor, citing his desire to finish his term in Newark. The term expires in June 2014, meaning if he wins the Senate election he'll go back on his word.
Booker's critics in Newark see him as an ambitious interloper who spends too much of his time outside the city.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.