Newark Mayor Cory Booker was expected to run for the Senate–but not right now. Just days after Governor Chris Christie announced a special election to replace Senator Frank Lautenberg, Booker’s campaign sent out an email Friday afternoon that the 44 year-old Mayor will make an announcement about his candidacy on Saturday.
Though he had planned to run for the Lautenberg seat in 2014, the prospect of a Senate bid suddenly opened up with Lautenberg’s death earlier this week. If Booker jumps into the race, his decision would be at odds with a previous statement posted on his website in which he pledged to finish out his second term as Mayor of Newark:
“And so, let there be no doubt, I will complete my full second term as mayor. As for my political future, I will explore the possibility of running for the United States Senate in 2014.”
Desite his rising national star, Booker has many critics in New Jersey. His social media presence as well as his time away from Newark have been cited as evidence of Booker’s political ambitions. According to The New York Times, Booker raised $1.3 million in speaking fees for 96 speeches (24 of them in 2011 alone).
Booker’s record in Newark has come under scrutiny with contrasts being drawn between his personal actions and his legislative agenda. For example, Booker was widely praised for saving a neighbor from a burning building–but he had removed three firehouses from the city’s budget. In another case, he shoveled snow for residences during a blizzard in 2010, when Newark had no contract to remove the snow.
Many of Booker’s initiatives have been successful. Newark’s murder rate in 2010 was one of the lowest its ever been, and the city’s budget deficit has been cut by over $100 million. He would be considered the front runner in October’s special election. Congressman Rush Holt intends to run and there has been talk that Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone could enter the race.
Only one Republican, Steve Lonegan, has announced his candidacy for Lautenberg’s seat.