New Jersey Special Election 2013: Is Cory Booker Ready to Move For Lautenberg's Seat?

For Cory Booker, this is the time. Keeping in mind that Booker may have higher ambitions than holding a New Jersey Senate seat (i.e. a potential Clinton-Booker 2016 ticket), it might be wise for the very popular and well-known mayor of Newark to run now in order to stay in the spotlight and gain the national experience he needs before running for a bigger ticket.

Gov. Chris Christie’s decision Tuesday to hold a special election in October to replace Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died Monday at age 89, means there will be a Democratic primary in August. If Booker runs, running against him will be Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) a.k.a the biggest nerd in Congress, and underdog and longtime congressman Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.). Assuming Booker would beat out the two congressmen and go against the Republican candidate, his overall win still seems promising, as New Jersey has not elected a Republican to the Senate since 1972.

Which gives Booker more reason to capitalize on this open Senate seat now. If he waits to run in the 2014 general election, it will be much more difficult for him to win the seat against a sitting Democrat.

All of that aside, Booker was not planning on this election happening so soon, and will have to scramble to stack his fundraising and campaigning arsenal.

As for Booker's opponents, Frank Pallone may be an underdog, but he is sitting on a lot more money than Booker is. Not to mention both Pallone and Holt announced that they were going to run for Lautenberg’s open seat before his funeral even occurred — a move thought to be in poor taste by some, but one that also proves these representatives are ready to go.

Even so, Booker will run as a favorite. He is a rising star of the Democratic party and many will want to see him seated in the Senate.

The counterargument is that he should finish out his term as mayor of Newark until next year as he promised, especially if he wants his name on a presidential ticket. He needs to maintain the loyalty of the people of Newark, and in turn gain national credibility by finishing what he started, an essential quality in a presidential, or vice presidential candidate.

That said, it is possible that Booker would remain revered regardless of whether or not he finishes out his mayoral term. Booker may not have enough money, and he may not have much time, but the mayor should make his move now, or he may lose his chance. 

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Caroline Cullen

Caroline is a Vanderbilt grad and an editor in DC who loves writing, concerts, and TV marathons.

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