As Salon points out, and as I’ve been saying for years. New Jersey voters apparently prefer to vote on personality, not actual issues that affect their lives:
“We just had the worst financial decline in my lifetime, and there were really, really bad actors involved in it,” Booker says. “The mortgage lending agencies, ratings agencies, undercapitalized insurance companies. All of these things are egregious things that from a public policy perspective we must take action on.”
You’ll notice Booker didn’t include “banks” on that list. And those who have done battle with him in the rough-and-tumble world of Newark politics (the documentary about the 2002 campaign that helped launch him to stardom was called “Street Fight”) are skeptical of his zeal to take on these bad actors.
“Cory’s definitely no Democrat but he plays the liberal game,” says Ronald Rice, the longtime Newark state senator whom Booker defeated in 2006. “His whole life is Wall Street and Silicon Valley. We picked that up when he first came here. He was always a part of the privatization movement.”
Booker’s critics point out that he collected over half a million dollars from the financial industry during that first, unsuccessful mayoral run against cartoonish machine pol Sharpe James. Since defeating Rice, James’ hand-picked successor, in 2006, Booker has overseen major layoffs of public employees, including over 150 cops in 2010. Murders are down substantially and the population is inching upward for the first time in decades, prompting talk of a revival, but unemployment, poverty and carjackings remain exceptionally high and public services are often maligned (even if tweeting at the mayor about an unplowed street can occasionally produce an encouraging response).
Booker is also a vocal fan of charter schools and “education reform.” He’s tight with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a hero to conservatives for hurling rhetorical grenades at labor unions whenever the opportunity presents itself, and New York City Mayor and unabashed 1 percenter Michael Bloomberg, who (like many titans of big finance) is raising cash on Booker’s behalf.
And yet, for all of this, one other thing is true about Cory Booker that neither he nor his opponents can deny: Rather than revolting against him, New Jersey Democrats have gone all in.
The reason? As Booker puts it, switching to the third person, “Because he’s gonna win. Our internals reflect that.”