New Jersey's Cory Booker To Capitalize on Fame in Senate

Tuesday, 23 Jul 2013 01:13 PM

By Melanie Batley

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Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker says he intends to make the most of his celebrity if he wins the special Senate election this October, using his high profile to champion New Jersey interests and progressive ideas.

"Give me a statewide platform, and I will not only continue this stuff at a magnified level all across our state, but in Washington on day one, as the leadership's already told me, I'll be able to have an impact that a freshman senator usually won't have," the Democrat told the editors of Gannett-owned New Jersey newspapers in a conference call Monday.

"The ability to rack up favors with people now that are asking me to campaign in tough states from Kentucky to Louisiana, but also experience in working across the aisle on issues because I've conservative bona fides because I've been working with their think tanks on practical projects in Newark as well."

Booker currently is the front-runner of four Democrats running in the Aug. 13 special primary aimed at replacing the late Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Polls indicate that Booker is the runaway favorite to win the Oct. 16 special general election with Republican Steve Lonegan.

Poll: Majority of New Jersey Voters Back Booker

Nevertheless, conservatives are not backing down without a fight.

According to, a new conservative Super PAC launched a $100,000 ad Tuesday featuring a number of Booker's critics from Newark, including Councilman Raz Baraka who is quoted as saying, "Whenever there's a real issue in this city that needs to be resolved, the mayor is nowhere to be found."

The ad also attacks Booker for ordering the layoff of 167 police officers in 2010 after the police union refused to reopen contract negotiations.

The American Commitment Action Fund is leading the ad campaign. The group's founder is Phil Kerpen, a former vice president at Americans for Prosperity. Until recently, Lonegan was New Jersey state director of Americans for Prosperity.

"Our first project will expose Cory Booker's proven record of failure and division that is being hidden behind a façade of media and Twitter celebrity," Kerpen said in a statement.

"We're launching this initiative with an initial commitment of $100,000 and anticipate raising and investing significant additional funds."

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