“Spartacus”

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Now enjoy “Spartacus!”

Cory Booker (D-NJ) if not the most polarizing potential Democrat Party nominee to run against President Trump is at least one of the top 3. Booker seems to revel in controversy. More about that ahead. But first, let’s look at who Booker is.

Cory Booker

Cory Anthony Booker (born April 27, 1969) is serving as the junior United States Senator from New Jersey since 2013 and a member of the Democrat Party. The first African-American U.S. Senator from New Jersey, he was previously the 36th Mayor of Newark from 2006 to 2013. Before that Booker served on the Newark City Council for the Central Ward from 1998 to 2002.

He born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Harrington Park, New Jersey. He attended Stanford University where he received an undergraduate and master’s degree in 1991 and 1992, respectively. He studied abroad at the University of Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship before attending Yale Law School. He won an upset victory for a seat on the Municipal Council of Newark in 1998 where he staged a 10-day hunger strike and briefly lived in a tent to draw attention to urban development issues in the city. He ran for mayor in 2002, but lost to incumbent Sharpe James; he ran again in 2006 and won against deputy mayor Ronald Rice. His first term saw to the doubling of affordable housing under development and the reduction of the city budget deficit from $180 million to $73 million. He was re-elected in 2010. He ran against Steve Lonegan in the 2013 U.S. Senate special election and subsequently won reelection in 2014 against Jeff Bell.

As mayor, he was described as a New Democrat and as a political moderate, known for defending Bain Capital during the 2012 presidential election and for supporting school vouchers. As a senator, his voting record was measured as the third most liberal. Considered a social liberal, Booker supports women’s rights, affirmative action, same-sex marriage, and single-payer healthcare. His age and political ideology have marked him as a potential member of multiple U.S. presidential tickets. When asked about his desire to run for executive roles in American government he has stated, “life is about purpose, not position,” neither confirming nor denying potential runs for President.  There were even rumors Clinton was considering him as a potential running mate in 2016 before she ultimately chose Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine.

The New Jersey senator has had star-power for many years, even during his time as mayor of Newark. While Booker does have ties to Wall Street, he has also been a major critic of President Trump and outspoken proponent of criminal justice reform. He also tackled declassifying marijuana as a scheduled substance on the federal level.

When asked in mid-March of 2018 about a possible 2020 run and the message Democrats need to send to voters, Booker seemed to hint at a possible strategy. “I’m saying this to Democrats who will listen to me—we can’t make our elections about being against Trump. They have to be about what we’re for,” Booker told the Atlantic.

In May of 2018, Booker was asked on The View about his 2020 aspirations but was non-committal. “I’m a contender for the 2018 midterms where I’m going to be fighting for every Democratic candidate,” he said. “This is the most important midterm election of our lifetime… for folks who are looking beyond that… don’t look beyond.”

Similarly, at a University of Chicago event in May, Booker seemed to think someone else would be at the top of the Democratic ticket in 2020. “In the mosh pit of all the names that are talked about, maybe there is going to be a person where you and I both will say ‘she is the one’ and let’s get involved in supporting them,” he said.

During Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, Booker also raised speculation about a White House bid when he grilled the nominee and released documents from the committee that were deemed “committee confidential.” It was during that hearing in which Booker won the moniker of “Spartacus” for jumping in the limelight in the hearing with his personal reference to “Spartacus:”

Senator Booker has received much criticism for was has been characterized as “showmanship” in this back-and-forth with the committee leadership. No doubt it was pure grandstanding for an appearance on national television to show a national Democrat base that he is willing to “fall on his sword” for a worthy liberal cause. The criticism came when moments after this charade, it was revealed that the documents that were the subject of this event had already been released to the public hours before the hearing.

Political Positions

  • He has been described as a liberal, and a moderate.
  • In a July 2013 Salon interview, Booker said that “there’s nothing in that realm of progressive politics where you won’t find me.”
  • In a September 2013 interview with The Grio, when asked if he considered himself a progressive, he stated that he is a Democrat and an American.
  • George Norcross III described Booker as “a new Democrat—a Democrat that’s fiscally conservative yet socially progressive.”
  • In May 2012, Booker defended Bain Capital’s record and criticized Obama’s attack on private equity. In response, the Republican National Committee created a petition called “I Stand With Cory Booker.”
  • Abortion: Booker opposes overturning Roe v. Wade.
  • Affirmative action: When asked if affirmative action in university admissions should be based on class or race or banned completely, Booker said both race and class should be considered and cited the 2003 US Supreme Court ruling, Grutter v. Bollinger.
  • Civil liberties: He has called for amending the Patriot Act and said he was “troubled” by the revelations of the scope of the National Security Agency’s secret spy programs, but has shied away from specifics. He voted for the USA Freedom Act which re-authorized certain provisions of the Patriot Act in modified form.
  • Climate change: Booker believes climate change is man-made and supports cap-and-trade or carbon tax approach in dealing with greenhouse gas emissions. In September 2018, Booker was one of eight senators to sponsor the Climate Risk Disclosure Act, a bill described by cosponsor Elizabeth Warren as using “market forces to speed up the transition from fossil fuels to cleaner energy — reducing the odds of an environmental and financial disaster without spending a dime of taxpayer money.”
  • Confederate monuments: In August 2017, Booker announced his plan to create a bill ordering the removal of Confederate monuments and memorials from the Capitol Building after Labor Day of that year.
  • Gun rights: Booker has routinely defended the right of law-abiding citizens to own legal firearms and blames most shootings on criminals with illegal guns. He voted to prohibit people on terror watch lists from buying guns.
  • Healthcare: Booker has called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act imperfect, said it needs to be improved and wants to control health care costs. He opposes cutting Medicare, he supports expanding the program, and he supports transitioning to a “Medicare-for-all”-style single-payer healthcare system. In September 2017, Booker joined Bernie Sanders and 14 other co-sponsors in submitting a single-payer health care plan to Congress called the “Medicare for All” bill. The plan also covers vision and dental care, not currently covered by Medicare.
  • Immigration Booker supports the passage of the DREAM Act. In July 2018, Booker was one of eleven senators to sign a letter requesting the agencies responsible for reuniting families provide weekly updates until every separated child was returned to their parents.
  • He is for same-sex marriage.
  • Booker opposes raising the age for qualification for Social Security benefits except for those 20 and under.
  • Marriage: Booker has never married. In spite of rumors of his being gay, he has frequently described himself as a “straight-male” that is looking for someone with whom to settle down with.

Summary

It is almost certain that “Spartacus” is already in the running — although not “officially” — as a candidate for the 2020 Democrat nomination for President. He has much going for him: he is fiscally conservative, socially liberal, a 2nd Amendment adherent, supports efforts that include military action if found to be necessary to keep nuclear proliferation from happening in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

Cory Booker seriously dislikes Donald Trump. Many think a race between the two would expose some really negative debating since both are prone to very dramatic personal expression in public forums. (In other words, Booker would certainly NOT be shy to respond “in-kind” to jabs the President takes against his opponents almost daily) That might make for a humorous “made-for-television” campaign cycle!

Could Booker win? He would be a formidable foe for Donald Trump in that he is more conservative than almost all other Democrats contemplating running. In other words, he is not “hard left,” which is a position missing so far from other Dems.

Will Booker run? No doubt he is building a platform, testing the water, and leaning toward running. It is no surprise that he loves politics, loves the political stage, and salivates at making the White House his political podium. I would imagine he is in conversations (and probably has been for some time) with Party leadership about running. But there is a gaggle of other potential 2020 Democrat candidates doing the same things as Booker.

I imagine by mid-April 2019 all will know the 2020 intentions of Cory Booker. But don’t be surprised to tune into MSNBC’s Morning Joe and see Spartacus on the set making an announcement to run. After all, Booker is STILL chasing his “Spartacus Moment!”


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