Cross-posted at A New Jersey Farmer
Let the political salivating begin. The prospect of a Cory Booker-Chris Christie throw-down has the twitterverse all atwitter and the the national press sharpening its knives and pens. All that’s left is for both candidates to announce their intentions and we’ll have a money-soaked affair that will make Linda McMahon’s spending for the Connecticut Senate race look like a sale at Woolworth’s. Or K-Mart, or S. Klein’s. Or whatever the zeitgeist will give us.
If I’m Newark Mayor Cory Booker, and I am decidedly not, I’m going to think long and hard about whether I’m entering this race. He’s given a deadline of mid-December for his decision, as has Governor Christie, and I think he should take all the time he needs.
This is a tricky decision for Booker. He has a national reputation, is an excellent speaker, uses the latest technology, is well educated and gained stature because of his work trying and partially succeeding in rebuilding Newark into an entertainment, sports and business destination. He’s made some missteps along the way, but for the most part, he’s done all he can do on the job.
And then there’s education. If you gave me a choice of issues that could trip up a candidate, education would not be first, but this is one of Booker’s big problem for next year. For one, he entered into an agreement with Christie to accept $100 million from Facebook’s Marc Zuckerberg to finance the Newark public schools. Then he hired Cami Anderson to run the schools and the residents didn’t take too kindly to her reformy policies which included closing schools and implementing private sector methods on her employees. And just last week, fueled by Facebook’s money, the Newark teachers adopted a contract that incorporates merit pay, test-based teacher evaluations, and almost total administrative control of the hiring and firing process.
Good for Newark. Good for Booker. Bad for education, and potentially bad for a Booker statewide campaign.