The recent passing of Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) sets the stage for a special election in order to fill the open seat he left behind. Newark Mayor Cory Booker expressed interest in running for the open seat before Lautenberg was set to retire. In wake of Lautenberg's passing, Gov. Chris Christie has called a special election for October 13, with an August 16 primary. To run for the seat however, Booker must break his promise to serve out the remainder of his mayoral term through December, and start fully campaigning before the year's end.
Christie's decision to hold a special election that will cost millions of tax dollars has come under scrutiny for being a blatantly “political” move. Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, says, "It’s a $12 million gift from Chris Christie to himself out of tax money. No one believes his explanation over how important it is to have an elected member of the Senate voting for New Jerseyans. Come on. He’s not being honest, everybody can see through it." Sabato refers to the fact that Christie wishes to avoid having Booker on the same ticket.
New Jersey is a primarily Deemocratic state where the winner of the Democratic primary most likely will win the election. The possible opponents for Booker in the primaries include Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.). Although Booker is the favorite, Pallone has $3.5 million in reserve to help his campaign while Holt is a personality of his own. He is a research physicist who has won five games of the popular television show Jeopardy! and even beat the IBM supercomputer Watson in a Jeopardy! game.
Cory Booker is an incredible force in the political world and an incredible amount of name recognition and fund raising potential is attached to his name. Although the election timetable wasn’t as he planned, it will not to have a major effect on his campaign. Booker already has an incredible lead in the polls and will benefit from a multi-candidate race if both Pallone and Holt decide to run.
The rise of Cory Booker over the past few years goes beyond his youthful allure and vibrant personality, even if some critics claim that Booker’s social media presence and quirky personality overshadow his policy. Booker effectively usessocial media to influence politics in ways that no candidate has ever before. He has a huge presence on Twitter with over one million followers. His main initiatives as mayor, reducing the crime rate, creating affordable housing, and increasing support for education, were all backed up by real change in the Newark community. In his first term, March 2008 marked the first murder-free month in Newark for over 44 years. His reputation for results and integrity brought support from the most unlikely of sources. Marc Zuckerberg donated $100 million dollars to remake Newark schools. It's almost certain that Cory Booker will win the New Jersey seat, and if he continues his unbelievable track record, we may see "Booker 2020" stickers sometime in the future.