I was struck by this line in the endorsement of Cory Booker for Senate by the New York Times:
[H]e has worked well with Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, on areas of agreement in crime, development and education. That ability to work with the political opposition could be an asset for Mr. Booker if the ice age of a divided Congress ever ends.
First of all, how is Chris Christie the “political opposition” of Cory Booker? Sure, they’re in different parties but Booker decided early on not to run against Christie, and Christie has done little more than stand next to Booker while Mark Zuckerberg handed over a $100 million check (none of which has gone to classrooms, by the way). If Booker was really able to work with and convince Republicans to his side, why couldn’t he get the Governor to work with him on gun violence — an issue the NY Times specifically praised Booker for?
Second of all, both Frank Pallone and Rush Holt have worked with Republicans for many issues. Sandy aid, for which all political benefit accrued to Christ Christie, is one even during the “ice age of a divided Congress.” Earlier in the endorsement the NY Times called Holt “the most able legislator among them” which is not a possible description for someone who can’t work across the aisle.
But most importantly, Shelia Oliver, Pallone and Holt have spent their careers in legislative positions that require working with Republicans, the “political opposition.” Each of them has had to get along, has voted with, has co-sponsored bills with Republicans.
Booker’s entire political career has been in Newark where the Democrats rule completely from the neighborhood to Council to Mayor to the legislature to Congress. As a legislator on the Council he famously did not get along with most of his colleagues, all of whom were of his party. Last year he tried to force his own candidate to fill a vacancy and the result was a near riot and the opposition of every progressive on the Council.
Booker has never had to work with Republicans, and the photo ops with Governor Photo Op don’t count because in truth nothing has come from Trenton to Newark as a result of it.
But Booker has had to work with real political opposition because in Newark being a Democrat doesn’t mean you’re on the same side as other Democrats. And Booker has proven that he can beat the political opposition in Newark, but he has also proven that he would rather beat them down than work with them.
And that goes completely against the image portrayed by the NY Times’ endorsement.