Thursday, December 27, 2012

Booker Bows Out

Another news story that got lost in the shuffle while I was in Mickey's playground: Newark Mayor Cory Booker has declined to challenge Governor Chris Christie in seeking the Democrat nomination for New Jersey Governor.

For a while after the November election, with Obama winning New Jersey by 17 points, Joe Kyrillos losing to Bob Menendez by 19 points and criticism of Governor Christie from Republicans about aspects of his handling of Hurricane Sandy, it looked as though the Democrats and Booker were gaining confidence in challenging the larger than life incumbent. All things changed after an incident that occurred in Newark.

A few days before Thanksgiving, a riot occurred at Newark City Hall, when he used a political maneuver to place his ally on the city council, after a seat became vacant with Donald Payne Jr being elected to Congress. This incident brought Booker under the microscope for two reasons. First, his disregard for the democratic process to place his ally on the council. Second, it displays how Booker is as popular in Newark as he's portrayed to be, as well as how he writes the story on Twitter. In Newark, while he is popular among residents of the North and East Wards, the major Hispanic centers of the city, he is more disliked in the Central, South and West Wards; the poorer areas of the city and also the part of Newark from where former Mayor Sharpe James, as well as his son, who was overlooked for that council seat, hail.

This incident may cause New Jerseyans to further look under the microscope about Booker's leadership in Newark and bring up questions about crime, poverty and corruption; all of which a willing Christie campaign will be willing to use to bring up questions about his record. Furthermore, his pragmatic approach to the issues will come into question, especially when examining his 2012 DNC speech. It also doesn't help Cory Booker in that Chris Christie's popularity is surging after his leadership during/after Hurricane Sandy.

Cory Booker was wise to step aside. While he could have been trounced, he could also have been the challenger who could have given Chris Christie his biggest challenge. In the end, the path to re-election, in 2013, for the incumbent has become a bit easier.

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