Cory Booker: Can He Make it From New Jersey to Pennsylvania Ave?
Cory Booker was elected to represent New Jersey in the United States Senate in 2013, after being the mayor of Newark, New Jersey for eight years. As a Senator, Booker has mostly voted along a progressive base on issues such as the environment and social equality. For instance, Booker co-sponsored the Respect for Marriage Act, which would have ensured that the federal government recognized the legitimacy of same sex marriages.
Senator Booker first became a major contender for the 2020 election in Philadelphia, during the 2016 Democratic National Convention. There he gave an impassioned speech, centering around an optimistic outlook of the future and a call for unity in embracing positive change. Similarities were instantly made between his speech and the same address former President Barack Obama gave at the 2004 DNC.
However, Booker has come under criticism for voting against an amendment proposed by Senators Bernie Sanders (I) of Vermont and Amy Klobuchar (D) of Minnesota, that would have reduced the price of prescription drugs, and with the large sums of money he has received from pharmaceutical companies.
As a candidate, Booker’s proposals also fall more on the progressive side of liberalism, with a few exceptions. He proposes a mandatory buyback of all assault weapons and wants to expand protections for DREAMers. He has also laid out an extensive addressing animal cruelty and is one of the only candidates to do so. On the other hand, Booker is rather conservative with regards to the military, as he has called for an increase in military spending.
Policies altogether are something of a footnote for Booker’s campaign. His campaign’s main theme is a plea for national unity and an end to the cynicism that is infecting this country. Much like his address at the 2016 DNC, his campaign’s message of healing our divisions and restoring hope to a fractured nation is reminiscent of Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and serves as a counterbalance to the approach of other candidates who view defeating Donald Trump as the number one priority.
Senator Booker has also been noteworthy for his unique personality. A self-described “nerd,” with an interest in Dungeons & Dragons and Star Trek, Booker has also claimed to enjoy getting mani-pedis and is a vegan to boot.
Despite frequently receiving positive reviews from media outlets over his debate performances, Booker has not made much of an impact in the election, and his struggles have been notable. On September 21, his campaign declared an ultimatum in stating that he needed to raise at least $1.7 million by the end of the third quarter, in order for his campaign to continue operating. This announcement came as a blessing in disguise; within ten days, a surge of donations poured in, exceeding the desired $1.7 million.
Still, his struggles have continued. The New Jersey senator has not once appeared in the top five tier of candidates and has not met the polling qualifications for December’s debate, with the deadline less than a week away. Booker has recently criticized the upcoming debate, by stating that because Senator Kamala Harris dropped out of the race, the debate may not feature any candidates that are people-of-color (however, an all-white debate is no longer a reality since Andrew Yang has qualified). He specifically cited his frustration with billionaires using their wealth to buy vast sums of airtime, which naturally leads to increased polling. Though he didn’t mention anyone by name, his comments were interpreted as being directed towards billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer. Booker has also criticized the media for what he believes is a double standard in the way they covered Senator Harris’s campaign. His vexation with the lack of diversity at the top tier of a crowded field of candidates has been echoed across social media and has led to an increase in polling and donations. Even if his campaign falters, Booker is at the top of many lists of potential running mates.