There's long been speculation that Newark Mayor Cory Booker was going to challenge New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in 2013. But he's just announced that he's not planning to try for the governorship, and instead considering a run for Senate in 2014.
Booker was expected to do well if he chose to challenge Christie, but now there's likely going to be a crowded Democratic primary. After his lauded handling of Hurricane Sandy, Christie's approval rating has skyrocketed, which would have made unseating him more of a challenge for Booker.
Instead, Booker will be running against Senator Frank Lautenberg, another Democrat. Lautenberg hasn't expressed any interest in retiring, the Los Angeles Times reported, though he will be 90 in 2014.
In a video announcement of his intention to "explore" a run for Senate, Booker attempted to keep his ambition rooted in his love for Newark. He started the announcement with a pledge to follow through on the projects he's started as mayor, and continued to talk about the national stage as a bigger platform for the issues that matter to Newark.
"Before we talk about progress in Newark, there are challenges in our city, in our state, in our nation because of national challenges," he said. "We have to confront a catastrophic debt crisis that could devastate the middle class, we must find ways to empower hardworking low-income Americans and we must bring urgency to the effort to educate all children."
He stressed his intention to maintain commitment to issues that would directly affect Newark and the urban poor in general not only in his announcement video, but also in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
"I don’t hear people with a real urban agenda on the national level," they quoted him as saying, "In terms of talking about poverty, in terms of talking about how real wages are declining in this country, how I have residents in my city who work two jobs just to make ends meet, and what we really need to do to change this. I’ve now kind of gotten to the point where I do think I have a obligation to try to move on, be able to leverage more change to the issues going on in my community," Booker added.
If he actually maintains the focus he has now, he could make a great senator and help get America on track to care for its hardworking poor; to bring income inequality into the national spotlight. But it's important to remember that, for the moment, Booker still has one foot in Newark, and all of his talk could be just to keep approval rating from plummeting as he shifts focus to the national stage.
Watch his video announcement here and judge for yourself: