A recent Quinnipiac poll indicates that Newark Mayor Cory Booker could win the special election to fill a recently vacated New Jersey Senate seat by a landslide now that he has chosen to run.
The poll shows Booker earning 53% of the vote, with the nearest rival in a distant second place with a mere 10% of ballots.
Although early polling data has a long history of proving useless on election day, a candidate with the charisma and intellect of Mayor Booker should have little difficulty shoring up votes in his first Senate bid.
However, Booker’s political future does not solely rest upon the outcome of this special election. Less than a year ago, the newly reelected mayor promised his constituents that he would finish his second term instead of campaigning for a new job.
However, this promise was made months before the unexpected death of 89-year-old Democrat Frank Lautenberg whose Senate seat is now up for grabs in the Garden State.
Following the special election, set for October 2013, the winning candidate will be sent to Washington until the ballots have been tallied from the official November 2014 election.
While in office, the candidate will have just over a year to act as the junior Senator from New Jersey. During an abbreviated term in office, he or she will indeed spend most of their time and money campaigning for reelection.
Booker originally planned on running for this Senate seat in 2014, which would have allowed him to finish his term as mayor. With the option to enter the special election however, Booker was faced with the choice to finish his term as mayor and run for Senate in 2014 against the victor of the 2013 special election or abandon his commitment to Newark and have the advantage of running for Senate as an incumbent in 2014. Booker chose the latter.
By running in the special election, Booker will suffer two major consequences. He will appear as an opportunist who went back on his word for political gain and he will also be emptying his war chest by running for office twice within a single year.
Despite this, Booker would have been foolish to wait for another opportunity like this to arise. By remaining out of the national spotlight until 2014, his political capital would have undoubtedly begun to diminish thus jeopardizing his chances in 2014.
Booker was wise to seize this opportunity. If he can win the special election by a landslide and carry that momentum into the 2014 Senate race, Booker will be poised to run for president at the conclusion of his six-year term in office. Given current trends, 2020 is bound to be a competitive presidential election year for Democrats and Republicans alike.