Cory Booker's energy and understanding of the issues should make him an easy pick for New Jersey voters in the special Oct. 16 U.S. Senate election. The Inquirer endorses the Democrat based on his success as Newark's mayor, his ability to work well with people of other viewpoints, his respect for the contributions of American cities, and his vision of federal urban policy.
Booker is running against Republican Steve Lonegan, who served three terms as mayor of the Bergen County town of Bogota and led the New Jersey office of the right-wing group Americans for Prosperity. The two candidates to succeed the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg could hardly be more different. Booker holds fund-raisers in Silicon Valley, while Lonegan held one at a Camden County gun range. Booker is a moderate Democrat; Lonegan is uncompromisingly conservative.
Lonegan is long on opposition and short on solutions. He favors cutting welfare programs, repealing Obamacare, and reducing unemployment benefits. He would work to eliminate consumer and investor protections, as well as rules designed to stabilize the financial industry. He opposes gun control, same-sex marriage, and a path to citizenship for immigrants here illegally. He is a climate-change doubter and a foreign-policy isolationist.
Booker's Senate platform reflects his experience addressing Newark's problems. He supports the Affordable Care Act, having increased the availability of health care as mayor, which reduced expensive emergency-room visits. Beyond punishing crime, he wants to reduce recidivism with more effective prison counseling and education. A supporter of urban farms as mayor, he would back efforts to reduce the nation's carbon footprint as a senator.
The son of civil rights activists, Booker says he would fight threats to voting rights, work to close pay disparities between men and women, and support same-sex marriage. He has called for a better trained and equipped military, heightened cyber security, and a tough approach to China's unfair trade practices.
Booker is not without his flaws, though. He helped found an Internet start-up with substantial help from Silicon Valley friends likely seeking to increase their influence in Washington. And his former law firm paid him $688,500 under a severance agreement while he was mayor; at the same time, the firm did $2 million worth of business with city authorities.
It's also too bad that Gov. Christie set this election for Oct. 16, likely suppressing turnout - probably because he didn't want Booker to affect his Nov. 5 reelection bid. Nevertheless, Booker's political skills and governmental experience make him the clear choice in this race.