It’s the last week of New Jersey’s special primary election for the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s seat in the U.S. Senate, and Newark Mayor Cory Booker is leading by double-digits in every poll. Perhaps that’s why he couldn’t be bothered with attending a Newark NAACP candidate’s forum late last week. His opponents, New Jersey Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and Congressmen Frank Pallone and Rush Holt, were all in attendance for the Thursday night debate. Meanwhile, Booker was at a fundraiser hosted by billionaire kingmaker Oprah Winfrey (remember that her recent involvement in a major political race led to the election of the nation’s first black president).
According to NJ.com, the Oprah affair was held at “an upscale Jersey City restaurant with panoramic views of lower Manhattan.” The NAACP forum was held a few blocks away from Booker’s office in city hall – an office Booker’s been criticized for rarely occupying.
Only one African American, Oliver, is running against him in the Democratic primary. The other two, Pallone and Holt, are white men campaigning on progressive platforms – Holt is calling out Booker as not being a progressive at all in a new ad buy.
The long-time New Jersey civil rights activist Edith Savage-Jennings wrote in an op-ed today that she was supporting Holt against the black candidates Oliver and Booker. “Rep. Holt can often be seen in all the neighborhoods of Trenton, my home town, as well his entire district, hearing from the people he represents,” wrote Savage-Jennings.
Booker’s absence at the NAACP event probably didn’t help his absentee-leader perception.
“You know what would be great? If he brought Oprah over here,” Newark NAACP president Deborah Gregory told NJ.com.