An Open Letter To Cory Booker With Unsolicited Advice

Dear Mayor Booker:

I know you are considering making the run for Governor of New Jersey. It is an important decision for you, for our State and for the Democratic party. So here’s my take. We need you. The state needs you and our party needs you.

No doubt New Jersey is in for some rough times. Sandy of course, and the devastation she left in her wake. But Sandy, notwithstanding, we already had plenty of problems facing the next Governor.

The Transportation Trust Fund needs refunding; required and very expensive pension payments are coming due for the state; unemployment (before Sandy) is higher than the national average; property taxes under Governor Christie have soared because of municipal aid cutbacks; implementation of the Affordable Care Act; funding women’s health needs; expanding medicaid; and nurturing higher education reformation are just a few of those problems crying out for thoughtful solutions articulated by a thoughtful leader.      

So here are some of the reasons I think we need you as our candidate for Governor next November

Reason #1: You are a man of serious thought and vision. The next Governor of New Jersey will be in a unique and powerful position to carefully think about these problems and to propose and articulate solutions which will be needed in order to see us through very painful budget decisions.

Reason #2:The office of Governor of New Jersey is enormously powerful and the person who sits in that seat will actually be able to implement ways of solving these problems. How will we create jobs and raise the minimum wage in NJ? What will our tax policies be and how will needed sacrifices be made fairly? You can be the clear voice for those solutions.

Reason #3: With the right person, Governor Christie can be retired before a second term. You have the intellectual ability, the name recognition, and the fundraising ability to hasten that retirement.

Reason #4:You are the one potential Democratic candidate who can unify our party quickly. That is important so we can win the office of Governor and preserve Democratic majorities in both houses of our legislature. And that is important because it is how we will determine solutions and priorities.

Reason #5: Some folks are encouraging you to wait for the next U.S. Senate opening from New Jersey. How can you begin to compare what you can accomplish in the constitutionally very powerful office of Governor of New Jersey vs. being a freshman United States Senator? The position of Governor is beckoning in the upcoming election. The U.S. Senate nomination is two years away and another lifetime in politics.

I know that some followers of Blue Jersey will disagree with me. I know there are those who do not agree with your advocacy of charter schools or with some of your leadership decisions in Newark. But I believe you have “what it takes” to move us forward. I’m being both practical and idealistic in encouraging you to make the right decision for yourself, for New Jersey’s residents, and for our party.

Sincerely yours,

Loretta Weinberg

Senator District 37

Senate Majority Leader


Comments (40)

  1. deciminyan

    I would support any Democrat who is running for Governor just to get rid of the harm that Chris Christie is causing to the state, women, middle class, and equal rights. I’d support Booker, Buono, Sweeney, Greenwald, or Codey. While I have disagreements with some of them over certain issues, and I have my own favorite, any of the Democratic contenders would be an order of magnitude better than what we have.

    But if Booker wins, there will be immediate speculation on his candidacy for President in 2016. I would hope that if Booker decides to run, he pledges to serve out his full term.

  2. parnell44

    Currently, Cory Booker is the best-known Democrat in the state.  His skillful use of the social media is certainly a plus.

    To his credit, his “food stamp challenge” is one that has brought him more, well deserved attention.  He is a politician who knows how to get involved with his constituents without the bluster and bullying of Chris Christie.

    He has the experience of working with a depleted budget and using innovative ways to stretch it.

    Like deciminyan, I would like him to promise to fulfill his term as governor if elected.  

  3. DSWright
  4. 12mileseastofTrenton

    Like Christie, he’s more style than substance.  A creature of the media who knows how to exploit the media.  

    Yet his policies on non-social issues are not all that different from Christie’s.  He’s in favor of doing wall street’s bidding, of school vouchers, and corporatizing education.  Not clear where he stands on unions or the war against public workers conducted by Christie and Sweeney.  As evidence by the recent city council action, he’s playing footsie with the bosses.

    Not much for a progressive Democrat to like.  Count me out.

  5. Bill Orr

    Let’s not make the perfect the enemy of of the essential.  Is Booker the perfect candidate to take on Christie? No. Some of his his education policies are misdirected and undoubtedly in other areas he would end up disappointing progressives. What is essential, however, is to defeat Governor Christie and field a strong candidate who would benefit down-ballot Democrats. Only Booker has the state-wide recognition and fund-raising prowess to do so. With Booker we get a minimum wage increase, women’s health care funding, marriage equality, expanded Medicaid, more favorable approach toward Obama Care, Supreme Court Justices more to our liking and someone more concerned with the middle class and the poor.  Let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the essential.  

  6. Steve M

    For Senator, who knows.  It would depend on which other Democrats are running.  But I’m pretty confident that Booker is the best candidate to retake the Governor’s mansion.

  7. Got Kids

    but in these matters her advice will invariably lean toward whatever is in HER best interests.  Stay in Newark Cory for another term. You didn’t fight and claw your way to the Mayoralty so that you leave before the job was done, did you?

  8. Bertin Lefkovic

    …is not going to run next year.  I am willing to bet anything on this.  The risk to his long-term ambitions is just too great.  If he runs against Christie and loses, he is not going to be able to run for Senate in 2014, which means that his only option would be to run for re-election in Newark, where he is very vulnerable.

    He is undoubtedly a very intelligent and well-spoken person, but in the same way that President Barack Obama has proven himself to be sorely lacking when it comes to having a vision for our country, I do not believe that Cory Booker has a vision for our state and its needs.

    I think that he is a progressive-enough Democrat to be on the right side of most issues and if he were elected Governor, he would do the right things more often than not, but I do not think that he has core convictions that fuel a vision that drive him to become Governor.  Christie clearly does, although those core convictions drive him to do the wrong things more often than not.

    I think that Booker would be very happy being 1 of 100 Democratic Senators as he would be even more visible and vocal, which is far more important to him than having a vision and a voice, than he is now as Mayor of Newark and he would no longer have the responsibilities of executive office.  If he runs for Senate in 2014 and wins, he will most likely run for re-election in 2020 and then take a shot at the Presidency in 2024 or 2028.  However, if he never becomes President, I think that he will be much happier spending decades in Washington as a Senator than spending any time trying to run our screwed-up state.

    I am not convinced that Booker is necessarily the best or the only candidate who can beat Christie next year.  I think that Dick Codey, Bob Menendez, and Bill Pascrell could all present as strong if not a stronger challenge to Christie as Booker.  I think that if she could win the nomination, Barbara Buono could be competitive enough to help retain Democratic majorities, but would probably have to hyperperform with women to be able to beat Christie.  Even Sweeney would probably do well enough to hold on to our majorities, but I don’t see any way that he beats Christie.

    The only prospective gubernatorial candidate who could be a Peter Shapiroesque candidate is Chris Bollwage, who in my opinion is the most likely sacrificial lamb candidate that the bosses will run against Buono if Booker, Menendez, and Pascrell do not run.

  9. JCpolitico

    Ask anyone who knows anything about Newark under Booker and they’ll tell you Booker is a poor manager with crappy executive stills. He might be able to win an election against Christie but he won’t be a good governor.

    I think Menendez, if he could bear giving up his power in DC would be a far better candidate. Sweeney will never play well in Central and North Jersey, because hes too conservative in the wrong ways, is a teamster, former double dipper and, if im correct, did not graduate from college.

    Buono, whom I like a lot, would be a better choice. She can take advantage of the gender gap and also appeal to left leaning independents and moderates and isnt part of a historically racist organization (the teamsters union). That said, I doubt she’ll win. But Cory Booker isn’t the solution.

    Also, can we stop featuring Weinberg editorials on Blue Jersey? We should be holding her feet to the fire, not amplifying her nonsense.

  10. Babs NJSD

    I’d also like to underscore the fact that Mayor Booker has supporters across America!

    Right now I’m in Southeast Florida and will be meeting with local and snowbird Democrats, friends who have a national perspective. Several indicated they were very impressed with CB at the Democratic Convention in Charlotte!

    We’ll be celebrating the successes of 2012, but we will be forward looking, and NJ will be prime on many folks radar in 2013.

    We know that Christie has many, many chits upon which to collect from his fundraising work in 2012 all across the country. There is no doubt that the Democratic “package” for this race will be leaner in all respects, but it is IMPERATIVE that our package must be … complete and competitive!

    There is certainly more than one Democrat that is capable and ready to be NJ’s next governor…BUT… unless Christie suddenly implodes, Cory Booker is the one natural and logical choice to beat him! Christie has made it a whole different ballgame!

  11. carolh

    I don’t always agree with his approach, but having met him, I believe he is sincere. The entire RNC will come in behind Christie, and we need someone with national recognition.  I would love that to be you, Senator, but Cory Booker is an able candidate and will garner a lot of support.

  12. firstamend07

    He runs for Governor he wins and is Governor,he loses he runs the next year for Senator without primary opposition.

    The deal is made !

    Booker /Christie poll numbers will be even by March.

    Christie will be running on a bad NJ economy and a bad budget. He will also have to deal with the minimum wage constitutional amendment.

    The shore will not be rebuilt and Christie will catch some of the blame.

    Booker would be foolish to not run.

    ….but the deal is done ,he will run

  13. Bertin Lefkovic

    As the founder of the JGC and the WPC-NJ, SML Weinberg, how do you reconcile your preference for Cory Booker over the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial nomination, Barbara Buono?

    When Booker announces that he is not running for Governor next year, will you, the JGC, and the WPC-NJ be endorsing Buono for Governor?

  14. DSWright

    between Booker and other potential candidates in the polls. All of whom are relatively well known and can raise money. By the way, all those potential candidates – including Booker – lose to Christie.

    The assumption that Booker is somehow the best candidate to beat Christie in a general election is just that, an assumption. Pure conjecture.

  15. Bill Orr

    Name me  one Democrat who gets more or equal state public recognition, who does better in the polls, or who has more big fundraising ability.  It’s not a tie.

  16. Senator Loretta Weinberg (Post author)

    And in this case what is in “HER” best interests is in the best interests of the State of New Jersey, the people we represent, and the party which best represents our values. Not always “perfect”, but I never give up trying.

  17. 12mileseastofTrenton

    He was governor for a year after all.

  18. DSWright

    Money – Yes, Cory can raise a lot of money from Wall Street but so can Christie if it’s purely a money race Booker will go down. And other candidates while not matching Booker’s numbers precisely will be in striking distance. The other candidates can also raise money and have done so for years if they are elected officials. It is also a serious question about diminishing returns after a certain level is met. The other potential candidates could get past the point of viability minus the useless excess spending on TV ads. Something Christie taught Jon Corzine the hard way.

    Message – What is Booker’s message? Newark’s progress is at best, medicore, so it can’t be better executive leadership. Giving a great speech has not translated into achievement. So why should he be Governor again?

    And on public education he is at best Christie Light if not more aggressive in some areas.

    So the rest or the Message would be your list of Democratic value issues… every candidate is going to oppose Christie on those grounds and if those issues are popular – they will be popular for whomever runs on them. Women’s health care, marriage equality, if the issues matter then the issues matter they are not Booker-specific issues.

    Organization – This is an off year election when the members of a party coalition matter most. When it comes to unions, especially teachers Booker is really going to have a difficult time – as opposed to other candidates – energizing them. And in many cases we are going to see, for better or worse, hand sitting if Booker is the nominee.

    He is very popular with the national media and on Twitter. Unfortunately this an election limited to residents of the State of New Jersey.

  19. Bertin Lefkovic

    I don’t know why his name hasn’t been polled against Christie or why nobody is talking about him possibly running, but I think that on the heels of his recent landslide victory, he could be as strong a candidate as Booker if not stronger.

    He also has far more to gain from running than Booker and far less to lose.  If he runs and beats Christie, he instantly becomes a prospective Presidential contender if Hillary Clinton does not run.

    Also, if Christie is re-elected and is unsuccessful at being elected President in 2016, it is very likely that he will run against Menendez in 2018.  It would be better for Menendez to run against Christie now than to wait for him to take him on in six years.

  20. Bill Orr

    As much as I like and respect Codey, his governorship ended seven years ago, and was followed by his loss of Senate leadership. He largely withdrew from seeking or receiving public recognition.  It is  Booker who has been the master, particularly with social media, at capturing public recognition.

  21. Bertin Lefkovic

    …I think that the bosses would do to Codey in 2013 what they did to Corzine in 2009.  That said, I still hope that he runs, but I don’t think that he will.

  22. Bertin Lefkovic

    While beating Christie next year would definitely amplify his ability to run for President in 2016, I do not think that it is likely that Cory Booker has his sights set on a Presidential run for that election cycle.  Whether he becomes Governor in 2013 or Senator in 2014, I think that he is going to serve at least one full term in office and run for re-election before he runs for President.

    That said, it is good that, unlike FA07, you are willing to hold Democrats to the same standards as he would only hold Christie to when he wrote his silly diary about pledges.  Personally, I don’t think that is necessary.

    If Booker or Christie are elected or re-elected next year and then want to run for President in 2016, he should be able to do so without telling us in advance that this is their intended next step for the same reason that it was nobody’s business but Marie Corfield’s if it was her intention to run for State Senate against Kip Bateman next year regardless of the outcome of this year’s Assembly race.

  23. Jay Lassiter

    if Booker where running for governor of Twitter, I’d vote for him in a second.  But having seen the city of Newark with my own actual eyes, I don’t want ANY of “brick city magic” to trickle anywhere near Cherry Hill.  The place is a total dump. I can barely believe Booker is so shameless as to not be embarrassed by Newark’s reality.

  24. Bertin Lefkovic

    …next year, people will remember him and he will have as much good will and name recognition as he had at the end of his tenure as Acting Governor.  The only obstacle that Codey would have to overcome is the opposition of the party bosses.

  25. Got Kids

    some more!

  26. 12mileseastofTrenton

    But thiis “keeping the majority” thing is overblown.  With the way the districts were drawn, it will be very hard for the Republicans to win either house of the legiislature.

  27. Bill Orr

    Money: given the expensiveness of the NY and Philly TV markets, the viability of other Dem candidates is in question, particularly when you consider that Dems slid through the past two gubernatorial campaigns raising only a pittance because Corzine self-financed his campaigns. The Dem candidate does not necessarily need to match what will be a huge Christie war chest, but reaching the point of viability will be expensive and difficult against a seemingly popular incumbent.

    Message: having worked in Newark 20 years – 15 during the mayoralty of James and 5 under Booker –  I feel much as I do toward Obama, disappointed about the slowness of change, but  heartened that I supported both Obama and Booker.

    Organization:  like most NJ mayors in very tough economic times he has unfortunately felt he had to take on unions. Running for a state-wide office he will have to adopt a more inclusive approach.

  28. DSWright

    general election is just as risky (if not more risky) a strategy as picking a candidate who has more institutional and base support over a well known face with better fundraising.

    I understand why the media loves the match up. I don’t understand why that should matter to people who actually care about issues. The sensational or most sensational candidate does not always prevail. Remember Jim Greevery’s major campaign issue was DMV reform – boring and victorious.

    Also if we are playing that game, Booker has proven to not be the most reliable performer (Meet The Press) and Christie, if nothing else, knows how to play the game better than anyone has in a long time.

  29. 12mileseastofTrenton

    of questionable ethics, and Hudson County taint, justified or not.  It’s one thing to win a race as an incumbent senator, it’s another to take on an incumbent governor carrying ethical questions.

  30. 12mileseastofTrenton

    The crooked bosses and the insiders may have made this deal, but I doubt Democratic voters want a loser annoited as their nominee for senate coming right off a loss for Governor.  And even if Pallone signed off on it, I doubt Lautenberg would let the bosses dictate who would get his seat.

  31. Babs NJSD

    To come in second to the Republican super-star, with full state wide recognition, who will have practically unlimited pockets does not make one a “loser”. Booker did not beat James and his powerful machine the first time… nobody labelled him a “loser”!

    Frankly I think it’s a win … win for Booker!

  32. JackHarris

    A good friend of mine who is a very senior party leader in Minnesota had told me that the Minnesota delegation found Mayor Booker very impressive when he met with them in Charlotte.

    And this delegation included very innovative urban leaders.

    It’s not just great schools, snow, corn, soy and hogs up there!  :)

  33. JackHarris

    What the anti-Booker folks keep missing is Senator Weinberg’s points 1 and 4:

    4.) Mayor Booker is the only one who can unify the party across the state.

    We all know what the fault lines and fractures are. Do we really want to go there in an election against the most powerful Governor in the country?

    1.) Mayor Booker’s smart, thoughtful and a visionary.  Running for Governor statewide would better prepare him for Senator even if he lost the governors race.

    Especially in the post-Sandy environment.

    We will learn more about where existing  systems are breaking down and where a lot of our hidden issues are in this state as we move forward in the recovery process over the next six months. We we will learn more then we ever wanted to know.

    Mayor Booker is best equipped to mobilize people statewide around a unifying vision of where this state is and where we should be going.  

  34. Bertin Lefkovic

    I have been pretty vocal in my belief that Cory Booker is not going to run for Governor next year and that he is not necessarily the strongest candidate that New Jersey Democrats could run against Christie.

    That said, I think that most New Jerseyans who are familiar with the problems facing cities like Camden and Newark would agree that Newark has made far more progress during the Cory Booker years than Camden has made during the same period of time.

    Has the progress been as fast and as obvious as those of us who have supported Booker would have hoped?  Of course not, but after decades of under the control of people like Steve Adubato and Sharpe James and Adubato becoming even more of a force to be reckoned over the last decade, progress is undoubtedly going to be slow.

    I think that all of us who comment here should be conscious of our knowledge base when we criticize elected officials and their constituencies.  I think that it is fair to guess, Jay, that neither you nor I have any idea how to truly solve the problems of Urban America, so we should be careful before we call anyplace a “dump” unless we can play a role in cleaning it up.

  35. Bertin Lefkovic

    …even with the gerrymandered legislative map, I think that some currently Democratic districts (LD2, LD3, LD4, LD14, and LD38) could be at risk if Christie were to win by more than ten percentage points.  That said, the only prospective gubernatorial candidate who might lose by that margin would be a sacrificial lamb candidate like Chris Bollwage or someone like Steve Sweeney, who could have resonance issues.

  36. Bertin Lefkovic

    I am not convinced that Booker is as much of a unifying force as others do.  The fact that his candidacy would most likely clear the field is not the same thing as being a unifying force.  Teachers and other public employees are still not going to be excited by his candidacy nor will many progressives.

    Before someone can have a unifying vision, s/he has to have a vision.  Based on his mediocre performance as Mayor of Newark, it is unclear if he ever had a vision for solving the problems facing that city, making it even more unlikely that he has a vision for solving the problems facing our state.

    I think that this debate is moot, because I do not believe that Booker is going to risk his entire political future for a job that he might not even want and most likely will not be good at.  His lack of core conviction and vision is definitely better suited for being a Senator than being a Governor.

  37. Nick Lento

    …he could do a lot for Newark and urban NJ in general.

    Also, I don’t believe he would have to resign as mayor to run…so he would retain power either way.

    Not that I’m ready to follow Loretta’s implicit endorsement here….but Booker would be a formidable candidate.

  38. Nick Lento

    …especially if that woman’s name was Weinberg!

    I wish Loretta would throw her hat into the ring, I believe she could win the primary and the general.

    Christie’s bullying tactics would look even more ugly, petty, crude, rude, disgusting and downright evil if he was throwing his pugnacious bs at a woman who kept her cool and deflated the bubbles of blustering bullshit with witty and factually penetrating barbs of truth.

    Whoever the nominee is, they will have to shine lots of intelligent sunshine into the  darkest recesses of Christie’s con jobs.

    It would also be great to see Christie lose to an African American as that would throw the whole racist wing of the Republican party (you know the folks Nixon’s “southern strategy” was/is aimed at) into utter apoplexy!

  39. Babs NJSD

    One of those folks had to include my old friend Rick Stafford who just stepped down as Dem Party chair up there!

  40. JackHarris

    Though Rick just stepped down as a DNC rep from MN. Ken Martin is the chair. He succeeded Brian Melendez.  


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