After defeating Republican candidate Steve Lonegan, Cory Booker will leave the office of mayor of Newark, New Jersey to fill the vacant U.S. Senate seat left by the late Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg.
Booker’s election could not come at a more tumultuous time. Senate and House leaders narrowly avoided defaulting on the country’s debts and were only able to reach a temporary deal to end the government shutdown.
In the backlash of the shutdown, members of Congress have scored historically low approval ratings.
That begs the question: why would Booker want to join the Senate?
As a member of the senate, he’ll likely have to give all of that up. So why risk all of that to go down with a sinking ship?
The answer: the Democrats need Booker now more than ever.
Time Magazine wrote that Booker, if elected to the Senate, would have to settle for a “backbench seat in a hated institution where he’ll be expected to dim his wattage, at least in the short term.” In lay man’s terms: cut down on the charisma a little bit. Calm down and maybe not tweet as much.
But that’s exactly the opposite of what Booker should do once he is sworn in.
Booker has the chance to be the Democrat’s answer to Republican Senators Ted Cruz (Texas) and Rand Paul (Kentucky): a young senator in the midst of the grey-haired Vietnam veterans who have been leading this country for the past 20 years. In simpler terms, Booker is a breath of fresh air.
The left is in desperate need of a fresh, young face, a role that has been left vacant since an unknown senator from Illinois moved to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Booker has already caught the attention of President Obama, who endorsed him in a special video message one day before the election. The president calls Booker a "leader with uncommon character," adding that electing Booker to Congress would send a message about "what kind of leadership we expect from our representatives in Congress. That we're better than the shutdown politics we've seen in Washington."
It’s now up to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other Democrat leaders to allow Booker, the same way Republicans have allowed Paul and Cruz, to become the new face of their party.
Don't believe me? President Obama, in his endorsement, said of Booker's abilities "Take it from me: now more than ever that's the kind of leader we need in the Senate."
It's unclear what side of Booker we will see when he gets to work in Washington. Will he be able to carry his charm and energy to a room full of droll and unenthusiastic lawmakers?
The Democrats better hope so.