Campaigns

New Jersey’s Cory Booker ends his presidential campaign

Booker said he didn’t see a path to victory without more money

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker is ending his presidential bid. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker ended his presidential campaign on Monday, saying he was out of money.

“Our campaign has reached the point where we need more money to scale up and continue building a campaign that can win — money we don’t have, and money that is harder to raise because I won’t be on the next debate stage and because the urgent business of impeachment will rightly be keeping me in Washington,” Booker said in a statement.

The former Newark mayor, who made a name for himself over the years as a social-media savvy politician, campaigned on love and unity but failed to qualify for recent debates and languished at the bottom of polls. 

Booker was one of two African-American senators who ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020. California Sen. Kamala Harris ended her bid in December. With Booker’s departure, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is the only black candidate left in the race.

Booker made his political experience in Newark, his adopted hometown, a central theme throughout his campaign. 

He announced his candidacy in there in February 2019 and featured it in his paid advertising. Despite mixed reviews of his tenure as the city’s mayor, Booker had quickly earned the backing of every Democrat from New Jersey in the House last year, including his previous opponents.

On the debate stage, Booker frequently talked about being the only candidate who chose to live in a low-income inner-city community. His policy proposals — criminal justice reform, as well as a national gun licensing and a “baby bonds” program — reflected his experience in that community.

“I showed that you can actually fight and win, but not stoop to the levels and tactics and dirty tricks of the opposition,” Booker told CQ Roll Call in 2019 about his experience going up against the city’s political machine and how that prepared him to take on President Donald Trump.

Elected to the Senate in a 2013 special election, Booker is running for a second full term this year. In 2018, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law that allowed Booker to appear on the primary and general election ballots for president and lower office. If the eventual Democratic nominee were to chose Booker as a running mate, Booker could still appear on both ballots. 

 

Newark civil rights advocate Lawrence Hamm has filed with the Federal Election Commission to challenge Booker in the Democratic Senate primary in June. The chair of the People’s Organization for Progress, Hamm is also the chairman of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in New Jersey. 

Doug Steinhardt, the state Republican chairman, issued a statement saying Booker’s agenda of “socialized healthcare and out of control taxes” was fueling the state’s affordability crisis.

“If he expects to waltz back to New jersey into open arms, he is absolutely wrong,” Steinhardt said. 

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the Senate race Solid Democratic. 

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