Newark Mayor Cory Booker should drop any thoughts of challenging New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in the Garden State’s gubernatorial race next year and instead pursue a Senate seat, a leading New Jersey newspaper says.
“It is unlikely Christie will have a hard time convincing voters he should have another four years,’’ Alfred Doblin, an editorial columnist for The Record of Bergen County, writes in Monday’s editions.
“The question then is not whether Booker will run for governor, but rather why he should run for governor.’’
Last week, sources told the Newark Star-Ledger that Booker was planning meetings with potential backers as he mulled a 2014 run against Christie, including an appearance at a party hosted by Lady Gaga manager and GOP donor Troy Carter.
He has also hired Mather Martin, a veteran fundraiser who worked for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and expects to make a decision on a Christie challenge by mid-December, the newspaper reported.
Doblin praises Booker as “smart, decent and charismatic’’ with the “personal character to run into a burning building to save a neighbor. He's the embodiment of a State Farm Insurance commercial.’’
But Christie “enjoys his job and, after super-storm Sandy, has earned a place in the hearts of even his more vocal critics.’’
He adds that Booker “has not had an easy time in Newark. He faced an entrenched political structure, the legacy of former Mayor Sharpe James … His triumphs are in the big things — for example, bringing private monies into Newark for public education.
“But would-be governors don't win hearts and minds for the big things. It's the small, quality-of-life things that get mayors — even charismatic ones — elected governor.
“I am not sure Booker has achieved enough of those kinds of things. I don't think any mayor of Newark could in two or even three terms,’’ Doblin writes.
“Newark is a tough city to fix, and it has not been fixed as of yet. Booker will have to deal with those criticisms if he runs for governor. I ask: Why struggle to win a job that does not suit you when you could excel and easily win one that does? A seat in the U.S. Senate.’’
He likens New Jersey Democrats to the character of “Mama Rose” Hovack, the real-life stage mom who thrust her daughters, burlesque queen Gypsy Rose Lee and actress June Havoc into show business, and was the inspiration for the Broadway hit “Gypsy.’’
“They want to push somebody with talent onstage. They care less about whether the person they are pushing wants to be there or should be there,’’ Doblin says.
“No question about it, Cory Booker is the Democratic star of New Jersey. But governor of New Jersey is the wrong gig. He would be better waiting another year and make a run for the U.S. Senate, a place in need of men and women with big ideas and strong characters.
“Booker also could play a role in the Obama administration, although, like with Christie, I don't know if he wants to play second violin.’’
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