Booker leading as N.J. voters head to the polls
August 13th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
1 year ago

Booker leading as N.J. voters head to the polls

(CNN) – Newark Mayor Cory Booker is poised to capture the Democratic nomination in New Jersey's primary Tuesday for a special Senate election.

Heading into the contest, the two-term mayor has a sizable fundraising advantage over his Democratic opponents and a crushing lead ahead of the crowded crop of candidates in recent polls.

In the Republican primary, former Bogota mayor Steve Lonegan is the overwhelming favorite, but he still falls way behind Booker in hypothetical matchups for the October special election.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called the special after Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg passed away in June. While a Republican–appointed as an interim senator by Christie–currently holds the seat, it has been expected a Democrat would win the special election in the largely blue state.

The winner of the October 16 race will finish out Lautenberg's term through 2014 and the winner can run for a full term next year.

The nonpartisan political handicappers Stuart Rothenberg and Charlie Cook both rate next year's Senate race in New Jersey as solid or safe for Democrats.

Booker, a rising star in the Democratic Party, has 54% support among likely Democratic primary voters, according to a Quinnipiac University survey released last week. Rep. Frank Pallone falls in a distant second with 17%, while Rep. Rush Holt has 15%, and General Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver has 5%. Eight percent of voters say they're undecided.

Should Lonegan win the GOP primary against physician Alieta Eck, the Republican still trails Booker 29%-54% among registered voters, according to the Quinnipiac poll.

With more than 1.4 million followers on Twitter and Oprah Winfrey as one of his biggest supporters, Booker's appeal and frequent television appearances have reached beyond the borders of the Garden State.

Elected as mayor in 2006, after losing his first attempt in 2002, the Stanford grad and former football player previously served on Newark city council. His resume also includes a law degree from Yale and a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford.

Booker largely ignored his Democratic opponents and did not attend debates or forums with the candidates until last week.

His critics have accused the mayor of being more interested in his celebrity status than waging a serious campaign.

But Booker's high profile has helped in part with his massive fundraising haul. As of July 24, the candidate has raised $8.6 million and has $4 million in the bank, according to Federal Election Commission reports.

Pallone, meanwhile, raised roughly $3.7 million, with a vast majority of those funds transferred from his 2014 House re-election campaign war chest.

For his part, Christie briefly weighed in on the race Monday, saying he "fully anticipate(s) endorsing the Republican nominee," no matter who wins the GOP primary.

The governor was criticized earlier this summer when he set the oddly-timed date for the special election. Rather than scheduling the primary and special election to fall in line with the already-set gubernatorial election in November, Christie set the special for October.

Critics pointed to the extra costs to taxpayers for a separate election, but the governor stood by his decision, saying New Jersey voters deserved to have an elected official in the Senate as soon as possible.

– CNN's Kevin Liptak and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: Cory Booker • New Jersey • Senate
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Rick McDaniel

    The Obama political machine, will make SURE Booker wins. No matter what.

    August 13, 2013 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  2. Gurgyl

    Cory, I back you up–you back–women, Latinos, Indian Americans, Chinese Americans, young voters, other minority. Good luck, buddy–always back up Democratic party which stands firm and stern for minority, women., Latinos.

    August 13, 2013 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  3. Perry Tanko

    A suitable replacement awaits.

    August 13, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  4. Hector Slagg

    Mr. Booker appears to have a level head on his sholders. Something you can't say for a lot of the current Liberal Democrat losers in the Senate.

    August 13, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  5. Mark

    You're looking at President Hillary Clinton's successor in the 2024 election...

    August 13, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  6. Wake up People!

    Watch your back Mayor Booker, watch your back.

    August 13, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  7. emskadittle

    senate in 2013 and vice president in 2016

    August 13, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  8. Wake up People!

    Nothing scares republikkkans more than a well respected, educated, black man with power. Nothing.

    August 13, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  9. Data Driven

    Blue Dog leading. I'm sure he made a triumphant appearance on Morning Joe this morning, yay.

    August 13, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  10. Robert

    Mayor Booker has done little for the city of Newark. I live in Newark, and there is not one safe area to hang out. Lack of good paying jobs, so our educated youth leave Newark. Mayor Booker is all glam, no substance.

    August 13, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  11. just saying

    obama has been such a failure as a president it'll be a century before another black man is elected president. he poisoned the well. it would have been far better for booker to be president first. at least the guy seems to have some common sense, which is very unusual for a democrat.

    August 13, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  12. just asking

    Robert
    Mayor Booker has done little for the city of Newark. I live in Newark, and there is not one safe area to hang out. Lack of good paying jobs, so our educated youth leave Newark. Mayor Booker is all glam, no substance.
    -–

    another obama??? so do you think the media is accurately reporting his record? or are they selling him liek they did obama?

    August 13, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |