Politico is reporting that Newark mayor Cory Booker will run for U.S. Senate, with an official announcement slated for tomorrow. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced a special election to replace deceased Sen. Frank Lautenberg scheduled for October, with a primary in August – a surprise since his options were to hold a special election on the day of the November general election or appoint someone immediately as a placeholder until the November 2014 Senate elections.
Political commentators are saying that Christie decided against holding a special election this November because he’s up for re-election himself, and having someone like Booker on the ticket could drive up black votes for the Democratic Party ticket, boosting the chances of their pick for governor Barbara Buono. Meanwhile, Christie could have just appointed someone from his own Republican Party. But holding an early special election allows Booker to run for the Senate seat without threatening Christie’s re-election chances – though having two elections so close will reportedly cost the state’s taxpayers millions of dollars.
Meanwhile, PAC Plus, a D.C.-based Super PAC devoted to supporting progressive candidates of color, tells Buzzfeed that they plan to raise and spend as much as $2 million to get Booker elected for Senate. The campaign is simply called “Help Cory Win.”
“Here we are talking about the post-Obama world, and where the Obama coalition is going to go,” PAC Plus founder Steve Phillips told BuzzFeed. Phillips also is chair of Power PAC, a political action committee based out of San Francisco. “We think that Cory is one of the people who is best positioned to advance that movement.”
If Booker wins, he’ll become the ninth African American to serve in the Senate and could potentially bring the total number of African Americans serving in the Senate to two.
Andra Gillespie, author of the book The New Black Politician: Cory Booker, Newark and Post-Racial America, says that would be both “remakable and sad,” because, “by 2013, you’d hope that we’d have more than just two black Senators,” given African Americans are 13 percent of the population.
Gillespie believes that as a senator, a lot of the criticism he’s sustained lately, like being out of touch with city and defending Wall St. moochers like Bain Capital, will “fall away,” given the Senate is a different environment than the mayor’s office.
Says Gillespie, “What irritated people about him locally won’t be amplified as much in the Senate race. Doesn’t mean it won’t be used against him, but I think people will be far less likely to not use the ‘he’s-not-black-enough’ charge as he runs for Senate.”