Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) appears destined to deliver a crushing defeat to his Democratic primary opponents in Tuesday’s upcoming Senate primary. He looks equally primed to crush his likely Republican opponent Steve Lonegan in the October special election to fill the US Senate seat that was made vacant by the death of Frank Lautenburg. A Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday shows Booker trouncing Lonegan in a hypothetical matchup 54-29. The same poll has Booker defeating his hapless Democratic opponents by similarly gaudy margins. Booker is favored by 54 percent of respondents to 17 percent for Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr, 15 percent for Congressman Rush Holt and 5 percent for state speaker Sheila Oliver.
These are truly staggering numbers considering that Booker’s opponents are two distinguished members of Congress and a leading state lawmaker. There is nothing wrong with Pallone, Holt or Oliver, all of whom have compiled decent legislative resumes as public servants. Yet, none of them are competitive in the race, because Cory Booker is a uniquely charismatic politician who sometimes appears to border on being a marvel comics superhero. While political forecasting is always a perilous undertaking, barring an unforeseen campaign disaster, Cory Booker is nearly a lock to win on Tuesday, and he seems all but invincible in a general election as well.
One reason Booker has become so formidable is that his people-centered urban populism is quite sincere. The mayor gained notoriety when he heroically risked his life to save a constituent from a burning building. He suffered second degree burns and smoke inhalation during the rescue, but his selfless act demonstrated his commitment to his city went well beyond mere lip service. When Hurricane Sandy devastated New Jersey he opened up his home to city residents for a place to eat and stay. When a woman tweeted that she was not able to help her senior citizen father shovel his driveway one New year’s Eve, Mayor Booker tweeted back ”I will do it myself where does he live?” and then he followed through and cleared the driveway bringing additional volunteers with him.
As mayor, Booker has presided over a dramatic drop in violent crime, including serving during the city’s first murder free month in over forty years. He has also cut his own salary twice while raising pay for many city workers. In addition he has increased the city’s affordable housing and cut the city deficit over half. Although he has angered some city leaders and political rivals, he is well liked by city residents who re-elected him in 2012 as mayor and who approve of his job performance by a 2 to 1 margin.
With his active engagement with fellow citizens through a social media presence and a willingness to offer real life assistance in times of need, Booker has cultivated good will with Newark residents and voters in New Jersey. He has demonstrated a level of involvement with voters that is as sincere as it is unconventional. For these reasons, he is a very formidable political candidate. Formidable might be an understatement. As of right now, he appears politically invincible in his bid to become the Democratic nominee for US Senate in New Jersey. Furthermore, his Republican opponent in October had also better be preparing his concession speech, because Cory Booker is a prohibitive favorite to become New Jersey’s next US Senator.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.