Cory Booker, the junior U.S. Senator representing New Jersey and Newark’s former mayor, today became the 10th Democrat to enter the 2020 presidential race.
The charismatic 49-year-old made his announcement at the start of Black History Month, letting his 4.1 million Twitter followers know he is running in a video tweet that ends with the proclamation, “Together, America, we will rise.”
In his video message, he said, “In America we have a common pain but what we’re lacking is a sense of common purpose.”
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) February 1, 2019
Booker also sent an email blast to supporters and was set to discuss his candidacy with syndicated radio talk-show host Tom Joyner during Joyner’s morning show. Booker, who was widely predicted to run, is expected to hold a press conference this afternoon in Newark, where he still lives.
In discussing his possible candidacy over the last few months, Booker has often cited his opposition to many actions taken by the administration of President Donald Trump as a reason. He recently told the website The Root, “I feel a real sense of urgency about this moment in history … that’s one of the things that’s really compelling me to run.”
Speaking last month to the Netroots National convention for progressive politics activists, Booker gave a rousing address that invoked Martin Luther King’s famous speech.
“It is time for us to awaken the dream of this country again, to renew the dream, make it anew, to let people know that what we are seeing in this country does not reflect our spirit,” he said. “It does not reflect our potential. What we are seeing in this country is not as mighty as the love that we have together.”
Booker becomes New Jersey’s second major-party presidential hopeful in as many elections. In 2016, then-Gov. Chris Christie ran for the Republican presidential nomination but dropped out in February of 2016 after finishing sixth in the New Hampshire primary, just the second state test on the road to the nomination.
With a year and two days until the Iowa caucuses — the first test for a presidential candidate — Booker is currently ranked fifth in Real Clear Politics’ average of polls in December and January.
Booker’s support averaged 4.5 percent, behind former Vice President Joe Biden, with 33 percent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and California Sen. Kamala Harris. Harris is the only one of those candidates so far to have officially declared, announcing her candidacy last week.
Booker began calling members of Congress on Thursday to tell them he is running, according to a report in The Hill. A member of the Congressional Black Caucus, he reportedly was asking other members for their support.
Doesn’t need to give up Senate seat
In his sixth year in the Senate, Booker does not need to give up that seat to run for the Democratic nomination for president. Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law last year that many said was custom-made for Booker; it allows any New Jersey member of Congress to appear on the primary ballot both for president and his current office.
Known for his dynamic speaking and personable presence, Booker has been one of the darlings of the Democratic party in New Jersey and nationally for more than a decade. He was something of a legend even earlier, making news when — as mayor — he shoveled snow for some fellow Newark residents, rescued a neighbor from a house fire, and spent a week eating only the amount of food he could afford if he were receiving food stamps.
As a U.S. Senator, Booker was a sponsor of the law that created the opportunity-zone program that New Jersey and other states are hoping will help revitalize depressed urban and rural areas. He is a co-sponsor of the Redeem Act, a criminal justice reform bill. Booker is also sponsoring a controversial bill that would give all newborns a government-managed savings account that begins with a $1,000 deposit as a way to battle income inequality.
Booker gained notoriety last September for his “Spartacus moment” when, as a member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, he railed against Brett Kavanaugh during his U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings and released what were at one point confidential emails regarding Kavanaugh.
Born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Harrington Park, Booker graduated from Stanford University, received an honors degree in history from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and got his law degree from Yale University. Then he came back to New Jersey and settled in Newark. He was elected to the city council in 1998, lost his first bid at the mayor’s seat, then won easily on his second try in 2006. He held that job until winning a special election to fill the Senate seat of the late Frank Lautenberg in 2013. The following year, Booker won a full term in the Senate.