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I should preface this post with a few things. First off, I do think Newark Mayor Cory Booker is a swell guy. I think he’s incredibly charismatic, very intelligent and I also think he’s got a very bright future in national politics. This blog post is not intended to be a hit piece on Booker, who does have redeemable qualities, but I do have a few issues with him that will be obvious soon enough.
I consider myself a proud part of the progressive/liberal/left wing of the Democratic Party. As a blogger, I do nothing to hide those views. PolliticsToday is clearly a liberal blog, make no mistakes about that, but I also would like to have a future in which I help Democrats get elected nationwide. I’m also a resident of New Jersey so I have a vote in this year’s Senate race, one that I will proudly wield. I also will vote for Cory Booker if he is the nominee of the Democratic Party as I still think he’s closer to me on more issues than any person the Republican Party could nominate.
If I had a “point” to this blog, a sort of “blue sky” ambition, it would to create awareness for Democrats who are running for office. In most cases, I would be happy with Cory Booker as the nominee but in this instance, I can not. In a state that’s as blue as New Jersey with a Republican Party that has only one candidate worth a salt (that being Chris Christie), we don’t have to worry about picking candidates that will screw the pooch. We have options and we should use them.
With that being said, I can not vote for Cory Booker in a contested primary.
I don’t particularly care about Booker’s chummy friendship with the Governor. I think it was obvious that Booker, a highly ambitious politician, dare not risk his future by going into a race that he could possibly lose. Plus, on a more personal level, we all have friends who are on the opposite party; so that shouldn’t make a difference. It was rather lousy how Booker kind of jerked around local Democratic groups by publicly waffling on a race that he did not intend to enter, but that’s politics. I get it.
However, one of the biggest factors for me in endorsing a candidate (if you can call me, someone who is allowed to “endorse” someone) is some of their key beliefs. I’m glad Mayor Booker is okay with marriage equality, that is obviously a good progressive ideal to have.
One of the biggest reasons I cannot vote for Cory Booker in a field with better (in my opinion) Democrats is his ties to Wall Street. I understand that some believe that in a struggling city such as Newark, it could pay off to be tight with Wall Street. Maybe we could get businesses to come to New Jersey based off those ties, but I have yet to see it.
For proof of this, I have to quote Steve Kornacki (of MSNBC fame and a proud New Jersey resident) who wrote this piece after Booker made his well-publicized comments regarding the Obama attacks on Mitt Romney’s tenure at venture capitalist firm, Bain Capital.
Booker has throughout his political career cultivated and maintained close ties to Wall Street and affluent, investor class donors – people who, in many cases, believe the administration has declared war on their world and see the Bain attacks as an extension of that effort……
In sticking up for private equity, he was tending to a financial base that’s been there for him before and that he’ll need in the future. Running ads in the New York and Philadelphia markets is an expensive proposition, so Booker will need a ton of cash for a statewide run.
Booker has been closely tied with Wall Street for awhile now and defending them on a national stage such as Meet the Press and doing a widely circulated “apology” video for his comments, plays into that message that he’s a Wall Street lobbyist. We remember what politicians such as Max Baucus and Harold Ford, Jr. and how hard it is to get a progressive agenda passed when Wall Street has its influence.
Another must-read about Booker is this great post by DSWright of the DailyKos that outlines Booker’s ties to Wall Street and to right-wing think tanks such as the Manhattan Institute and the Bradley Foundation.
With ties such as that, I can not vote for Cory Booker over a better Democrat. Another key value to me is that of education and Booker is one of the more prominent Democrats who fight for the privatization of education. Booker, who calls Michelle Rhee, “a friend of his” is allied with StudentsFirst and Better Education for Kids, Inc. For more on Rhee, and who she is, please read this article.
Those two alone make me see Cory Booker as a man, who just like Christie, is a master at public relations; actually prodigal. But to call him a progressive, liberal, member of the left wing of the Democratic Party and as a great replacement for Frank Lautenberg would be highly incorrect.
That is why I’ll be voting for either Rush Holt or Frank Pallone in a primary (that decision will come later in the weeks to follow, I guess) against Booker. Having two solid progressive voices in a race against Booker will probably hurt them more than Booker as they will fracture the vote between them. Booker also has a built-in advantage with his rock star personality and popularity that will be likely impossible to topple.
But why Holt or Pallone? Both are devoted campaigners, unlike Booker who can raise money without shaking as many hands, and both are huge progressives who are members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Pallone has been an advocate against “too big to fail”, unlike Booker who pals around with them and fought for the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Pallone also has plenty of money in the bank thanks to his connections to Central Jersey (Long Branch to be precise) and would be a great upgrade to the Senate.
A vote for Booker is not a wasted vote at all but I do hope all of my New Jerseyians consider him. Sometimes its not just making sure that the Senate remains blue but if it can get bluer as we progress.
Like I stated earlier, whoever wins will have my vote, but Cory Booker will not have my first one.