Cory Anthony Booker (born April 27, 1969) is an American politician, attorney, and author who has served as the junior United States Senator from New Jersey since 2013. A member of the Democratic Party, Booker is the first African-American U.S. Senator from New Jersey. He was the 38th mayor of Newark from 2006 to 2013, and served on the Municipal Council of Newark for the Central Ward from 1998 to 2002.
|United States Senator|
from New Jersey
|Assumed office |
October 31, 2013
Serving with Bob Menendez
|Preceded by||Jeffrey Chiesa|
|38th Mayor of Newark|
July 1, 2006 – October 31, 2013
|Preceded by||Sharpe James|
|Succeeded by||Luis Quintana|
|Member of the Newark Municipal Council|
from the Central Ward
July 1, 1998 – June 30, 2002
|Preceded by||George Branch|
|Succeeded by||Charles Bell|
Cory Anthony Booker
April 27, 1969
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Domestic partner||Rosario Dawson (2019–present)|
|Education||Stanford University (BA, MA)|
Oxford University (MA)
Yale University (JD)
|College football career|
|Stanford Cardinal – No. 81|
|Height||6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)|
|Weight||220 lb (100 kg)|
|Bowl games||1991 Aloha Bowl|
|High school||Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan|
Mayor of Newark, New Jersey
U.S. Senator from New Jersey
2020 presidential campaign
Booker was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Harrington Park, New Jersey. He attended Stanford University, receiving a BA in 1991 and a master's degree a year later. He studied abroad at the University of Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship before attending Yale Law School. He won an upset victory for a seat on the Municipal Council of Newark in 1998, staging a 10-day hunger strike and briefly living in a tent to draw attention to urban development issues in the city. He ran for mayor in 2002 but lost to incumbent Sharpe James. He ran again in 2006 and defeated Deputy Mayor Ronald Rice. Booker's first term saw the doubling of affordable housing under development and the reduction of the city budget deficit from $180 million to $73 million. He was reelected in 2010. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in a 2013 special election and reelected in 2014 and in 2020.
Throughout his Senate tenure, Booker has written, sponsored, and passed legislation advancing women's rights, affirmative action, same-sex marriage, and single-payer healthcare. He has pushed for economic reforms to address wealth inequality in the U.S., particularly the racial wealth gap. Booker has pursued measures to reform the criminal justice system, combat climate change, and restructure national immigration policy. In foreign policy, he has voted successfully for tougher sanctions against Iran, voiced support for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, and lobbied for increased diplomacy in the Middle East. He was the first senator to ever testify against another senator during Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions's 2017 confirmation hearing. Booker was a candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, suspending his campaign on January 13, 2020.
Early life and education
Booker was born in Washington, D.C.; he grew up in Harrington Park, New Jersey, 20 miles (32 km) northeast of Newark. His parents, Carolyn Rose (née Jordan) and Cary Alfred Booker, were among the first black IBM executives. Booker has said that he was raised in a religious household and that he and his family attended a small African Methodist Episcopal Church in New Jersey. Booker has Sierra Leonean ancestry; he learned that information when he was featured on the PBS television program Finding Your Roots.
Booker graduated from Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan, where he played varsity football and was named to the 1986 USA Today All-USA high school football team. He graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts in political science in 1991 and a master of arts in sociology in 1992. He played football for Stanford at the position of tight end and was teammates with Brad Muster and Ed McCaffrey, making the All–Pacific-10 Academic team. He was elected senior class president. In addition, Booker ran The Bridge Peer Counseling Center, a student-run crisis hotline, and organized help from Stanford students for youth in East Palo Alto, California.
Booker was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University, earning a degree in United States history in 1994 as a member of The Queen's College. At Oxford, Booker served as president of the Oxford University L'Chaim Society. He obtained his Juris Doctor in 1997 from Yale Law School and operated free legal clinics for low-income residents of New Haven, Connecticut. At Yale, Booker was a founding member of the Chai Society (now Shabtai). He also was a Big Brother with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and active in the National Black Law Students Association.
Municipal Council of Newark
Contemplating advocacy work and a run for city council in Newark after graduating from law school, Booker lived in the city during his final year at Yale. After graduation, he served as staff attorney for the Urban Justice Center in New York and program coordinator of the Newark Youth Project. In 1998, Booker won an upset victory for a seat on the Municipal Council of Newark, defeating four-term incumbent George Branch. To draw attention to the problems of open-air drug dealing and associated violence, he went on a 10-day hunger strike, living in a tent and later in a motor home near drug-dealing areas of the city. Booker also proposed council initiatives that affected housing, young people, law and order, and the efficiency and transparency of City Hall, but was regularly outvoted.
Mayor of Newark
On January 9, 2002, Booker announced his campaign for mayor of Newark rather than running for reelection as councilman. That pitted him against longtime incumbent Sharpe James. James, who had easily won election four consecutive times, saw Booker as a real threat and responded with mudslinging. At one campaign event James called him "a Republican who took money from the KKK [and] Taliban ... [who's] collaborating with the Jews to take over Newark." In the campaign James's supporters questioned Booker's suburban background, calling him a carpetbagger who was "not black enough" to understand the city. Booker lost the election, garnering 47% of the vote to James's 53%. The Oscar-nominated documentary Street Fight chronicles the election.
On February 11, 2006, Booker announced that he would run for mayor again. Although James filed paperwork to run for reelection, he announced shortly thereafter that he would instead cancel his bid to focus on his work as a state senator, a position to which he was elected in 1999. At James's discretion, Deputy Mayor Ronald Rice decided to run for mayor. Booker's campaign outspent Rice's 25 to 1, for which Rice attacked him. In addition to raising over $6 million in the race, Booker attacked Rice as a "political crony" of James. Booker won the May 9 election with 72% of the vote. His slate of city council candidates, known as the "Booker Team", swept the council elections, giving Booker firm leadership of the city government.
On April 3, 2010, Booker announced his candidacy for reelection. At his announcement event, he remarked that a "united government" was crucial to progress, knowing his supporters in the city council faced tough reelections. Heavily favored to win, Booker faced former judge and Essex County prosecutor Clifford J. Minor and two minor candidates. Booker was reelected with 59% of the vote.
Before taking office as mayor, Booker sued the James administration, seeking to terminate cut-rate land deals favoring two redevelopment agencies that had contributed to James's campaigns and listed James as a member of their advisory boards. Booker argued that the state's "pay-to-play" laws had been violated and that the land deals would cost the city more than $15 million in lost revenue. Specifically, Booker referenced a parcel at Broad and South Streets that would generate only $87,000 under the proposed land deals yet was valued at $3.7 million under then-current market rates. On June 20, 2006, Superior Court Judge Patricia Costello ruled in Booker's favor.
In late June 2006, before Booker took office, New Jersey investigators foiled a plot to assassinate him led by Bloods gang leaders inside four New Jersey state prisons. The motive for the plot was unclear, but was described variously as a response to the acrimonious campaign and to Booker's campaign promises to take a harder line on crime.
Booker took office as mayor of Newark on July 1, 2006. After his first week in office, he announced a 100-day plan to implement reforms. The proposed changes included increasing police forces, ending background checks for many city jobs to help former offenders find employment in the city, refurbishing police stations, improving city services, and expanding summer youth programs.
One of Booker's first priorities was to reduce the city's crime rate. In furtherance of this, he appointed former deputy commissioner of operations of the New York City Police Department Garry McCarthy director of the Newark Police Department. Crime reduction was such a central concern of Booker's administration that he and his security team were known to personally patrol the Newark's streets until as late as 4 a.m.
Booker was a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, a bipartisan group with a stated goal of "making the public safer by getting illegal guns off the streets". In October 2009, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence gave him the Sarah Brady Visionary Award for his work in reducing gun violence. During his mayoralty, crime dropped significantly in Newark, which led the nation in violent crime reduction from 2006 to 2008. March 2010 marked Newark's first murder-free month in over 44 years, although murder and overall crime rates began to rise again after 2008. In addition to his crime-lowering initiatives, Booker doubled the amount of affordable housing under development and quadrupled the amount under pre-development, and reduced the city budget deficit from $180 million to $73 million.
After taking office, Booker voluntarily reduced his own salary twice, first by 8% early in his first year as mayor. He also raised the salaries of many city workers. But his administration imposed one-day-a-month furloughs for all non-uniformed employees from July through December 2010, as well as 2% pay cuts for managers and directors earning more than $100,000 a year. In 2008 and 2009, the City of Newark received the Government Finance Officers Association's Distinguished Budget Presentation Award. In an effort to make government more accessible, Booker held regular open office hours during which city residents could meet with him to discuss their concerns. In 2010, Booker was among the finalists for the World Mayor prize, ultimately placing seventh; he was also an unsuccessful candidate for the 2012 award. In March 2010, Booker won a Shorty Award in the government category for having the best microblog.
In July 2010, Booker attended a dinner at a conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, where he was seated with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg, who had no known ties to Newark, announced in September 2010 that he was donating $100 million to the Newark school system. According to The New York Times, Booker and Zuckerberg continued their conversation about Booker's plans for Newark. The initial gift was made to start a foundation for education. The gift was formally announced when Booker, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Zuckerberg appeared together on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Some considered the timing of Zuckerberg's donation a move for damage control to his image, as it was announced on the opening day of the movie The Social Network, a film that painted an unflattering portrait of Zuckerberg. But on her show, Winfrey told the audience that Zuckerberg and Booker had been in talks for months, had planned the announcement for the month before, and that she and Booker had to force Zuckerberg to put his name on the donation, which he had wanted to make anonymously.
Booker gained national attention on December 28, 2010, when a constituent asked him on Twitter to send someone to her elderly father's house to shovel his driveway because he was about to attempt to do it himself. Booker responded by tweeting, "I will do it myself; where does he live?" Other people volunteered, including one person who offered his help on Twitter, and 20 minutes later Booker and some volunteers showed up and shoveled the man's driveway.
In October 2011, Booker expanded the Let's Move! Newark program to include Let's Move! Newark: Our Power, a four-month fitness challenge for Newark public school students run by public health advocate Jeff Halevy.
On April 12, 2012, Booker saved a woman from a house fire, suffering smoke inhalation and second-degree burns on his hands in the process. Newark Fire Chief John Centanni said that Booker's actions possibly saved the woman's life. After Hurricane Sandy destroyed much of New Jersey's and New York's shoreline areas in late October 2012, Booker invited Newarkers without electrictiy and similar services to eat and sleep in his home. In February 2013, responding to a Twitter post, Booker helped a nervous constituent propose to his girlfriend. Booker rescued a dog from freezing temperatures in January 2013 and another dog that had been abandoned in a cage in July 2013.
On November 20, 2012, a melee occurred at a Newark City Council meeting Booker attended. The nine-seat council was to vote on the successor to the seat vacated by newly elected U.S. Representative Donald M. Payne, Jr. Booker's opponents on the council, including Ras Baraka, sought to appoint John Sharpe James, son of former mayor Sharpe James, while Booker and his supporters favored Shanique Speight. Booker attended the meeting to deal with the eventuality of the lack of a quorum or a tie vote, in which state law would allow him to cast a deciding vote. After acting Council President Anibal Ramos Jr. refused Baraka an opportunity to address the council, Baraka and two other council members walked away in protest. Booker cast the deciding vote for Speight. Supporters of James stormed the stage and were held back by riot police, who eventually used pepper spray on some members of the crowd. Baraka later blamed Booker for inciting the disturbance. Booker refused to comment to the media after the vote.
In December 2012, after discussions with a constituent about New Jersey's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Booker began a weeklong challenge attempting to live on a food budget of $30 per week—the amount SNAP recipients receive. When critics noted that the very name of the SNAP program shows that it is intended to "supplement" an individual's food budget, not be its sole source, Booker replied that his aim was to spark a discussion about the reality that many Americans rely solely on food stamps to survive.
The Newark Watershed comprises 35,000 acres of pristine land and reservoirs that supply water to municipalities in northern New Jersey. A February 2014 New Jersey State Comptroller report revealed irregularities and corruption within the Newark Watershed and Development Corporation, which was being dismantled after being taken over by the city during Booker's mayoralty.
Public opinion polling
Throughout Booker's mayoralty, Fairleigh Dickinson University's public opinion poll PublicMind asked New Jersey residents whether they had heard of Booker and whether they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him. The results were:
- Name recognition: 88%
- Favorable opinion: 47%
- Unfavorable opinion: 23%
Booker's mayoralty and celebrity drew substantial media attention to Newark. While he had high ratings from Newarkers, his legacy has received mixed reviews. During his tenure, millions of dollars were invested in downtown development, but underemployment and high murder rates continue to characterize many of the city's neighborhoods. Despite legal challenges initiated during his term, Newark Public Schools remained under state control for nearly 20 years. Newark received $32 million in emergency state aid in 2011 and 2012, requiring a memorandum of understanding between Newark and the state that obligated the city to request and the state to approve appointments to City Hall administrative positions.
While mayor, Booker claimed in an interview that Newark's unemployment rate had fallen by two percentage points. PolitiFact rated the claim "false" because he used data that had not been seasonally adjusted; the adjusted rate was 0.7 percentage points.
On December 20, 2012, Booker announced that he would explore running for the U.S. Senate seat then occupied by Frank Lautenberg in the 2014 election, ending speculation that he would challenge Governor Chris Christie in the 2013 gubernatorial election. On January 11, 2013, Booker filed papers to form a campaign committee without announcing whether he would run. About a month later, Lautenberg—then 89 years old—announced that he would not seek reelection in 2014.
On June 3, Lautenberg died of viral pneumonia; five days later, Booker announced his intention to run for Lautenberg's seat in a 2013 special election. Booker announced his candidacy at two events, one in Newark and the other in Willingboro.
On August 13, 2013, Booker was declared the winner of the Democratic primary, with approximately 59% of the vote. On October 16, he defeated Republican Steve Lonegan in the general election, 54.9% to 44.0%. Booker was the first African-American to be elected to the Senate since Barack Obama in 2004. The night before his victory, he visited the gravesite of Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, offering prayers and lighting a vigil candle in memory of his father.
Booker resigned as mayor of Newark on October 30, and on October 31 was sworn in as the junior U.S. Senator from New Jersey. He is the first African-American U.S. Senator from New Jersey.
On January 9, 2014, Brian D. Goldberg, a West Orange resident and New Jersey businessman, announced that he would seek the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. On January 27, 2014, Freehold Township businessman Richard J. "Rich" Pezzullo announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination. Pezzullo had run for the US Senate in 1996 as the Conservative Party candidate. On February 4, 2014, conservative political consultant Jeff Bell announced his bid for the nomination. Bell was the Republican Party nominee for U.S. Senate in 1978. Ramapo College professor Murray Sabrin, who ran for the Senate in 2000 and 2008, announced his candidacy on February 13.
Bell won the Republican primary and received support from the conservative American Principles Fund, which ran a direct-mail operation costing over $80,000, and the National Organization for Marriage, an organization opposing same-sex marriage, which paid for $6,000 of automated calling. Booker defeated Bell in the general election with 55.8% of the vote to Bell's 42.4%.
In his reelection campaign, Booker faced Republican nominee Rik Mehta, a pharmaceutical executive and attorney. The election was primarily conducted by mail-in ballots, as mandated by Governor Phil Murphy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Booker and Mehta participated in a virtual debate sponsored by the New Jersey Globe, in which they sparred over issues including the Trump presidency, COVID-19 lockdowns, the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, and systemic racism.
In November 2013, Booker co-sponsored and voted for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. In December 2013, he was one of the original cosponsors of Bob Menéndez's Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013, which would toughen sanctions against Iran. He also voted for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 and the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. In January 2014, he cosponsored the Respect for Marriage Act. In February 2014, Booker voted against the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013. In March, Booker pledged to meet with each of his Republican colleagues in the Senate in order to find common ground, and was spotted having dinner with Senator Ted Cruz in Washington.
Leading up to the 2016 presidential election, Booker endorsed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. He was considered a potential vice-presidential candidate during the primary and as the general election began, though he said on June 16 that he was not being vetted. After the election, in which Donald Trump defeated Clinton, Booker testified on January 11, 2017, against Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, the first instance of a sitting senator testifying against another during a cabinet position confirmation hearing.
Booker supported fellow New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez when Menendez faced trial on federal corruption and bribery charges. During the trial, Booker was a character witness for Menendez, giving him effusive praise. After the judge declared a mistrial, Booker argued that prosecutors ought not to take Menendez to trial again. When Menendez ran for reelection, Booker praised Menendez, saying he was "so grateful for Bob Menendez and that I get to work with him and stand beside him." Booker downplayed the corruption allegations, saying "to try to continue to try to throw this kind of mud at him, it's not going to stick. It didn't stick when the government tried to do it and it should not stick now."
In 2018, Politico named Booker part of the "Hell-No Caucus", along with Senators Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders, after he voted "overwhelmingly to thwart his [Trump's] nominees for administration jobs", including Rex Tillerson, Betsy De Vos, and Mike Pompeo; all the senators on the list were considered potential 2020 presidential contenders.
In April 2018, after the FBI raided the hotel room and offices of Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, Booker, Chris Coons, Lindsey Graham, and Thom Tillis introduced new legislation to "limit President Trump's ability to fire special counsel Robert Mueller." Termed the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, the legislation would allow any special counsel, in this case Mueller, to receive an "expedited judicial review" in the 10 days following being dismissed to determine if said dismissal was suitable. If not, the special counsel would be reinstated. At the same time, according to The Hill, the bill would "codify regulations" that a special counsel could be fired by only a senior Justice Department official, while having to provide reasons in writing.
On September 5, 2018, during the Senate Judiciary Committee's confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh (nominated by Trump to replace retiring Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court), Booker questioned Kavanaugh on a series of emails marked "committee confidential" dating to Kavanaugh's time in the office of the White House Counsel during George W. Bush's presidency. The emails, which Booker's office released to the public the next day, show Kavanaugh and others in the Counsel's office discussing racial profiling as a means to combat terrorism, particularly after 9/11. Booker said that he was violating Senate rules in releasing the documents, with the penalty including possible expulsion from the Senate; he nonetheless defended his decision, referring to the process of producing documents for the hearing as a "sham" and challenging those who warned him about the consequences to "bring it on". Booker also described the release as "probably the closest I'll ever have in my life to an 'I am Spartacus' moment", referring to a line in the 1960 film Spartacus. Committee chairman Chuck Grassley said the documents had already been cleared for public release the night before, and that Booker was not violating any rules, leading some Republicans to accuse Booker of engaging in "theatrics" and "histrionics". Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas mocked Booker in comments the following week, saying, "Honorable—if we could use that word about more people who are in public life, people who actually ask the questions at confirmation hearings, instead of 'Spartacus.'"
In November 2018, Booker co-sponsored the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S.270), which made it a federal crime, punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years' imprisonment, for Americans to encourage or participate in boycotts against Israel and Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories if protesting actions by the Israeli government.
Booker played a leading role in the push to pass the First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill. He has introduced the Marijuana Justice Act, which would legalize cannabis in the United States on the federal level, defund some law enforcement in jurisdictions that have shown racial bias in marijuana arrests, and increase funding to communities affected by the war on drugs.
Booker announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president in the 2020 election on February 1, 2019.
Booker was participating in the certification of the 2021 United States Electoral College vote count on January 6, 2021, when Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Minutes after rioters breached the Capitol, Booker and his fellow senators were evacuated from the chambers. Booker blamed Trump for inciting the attack. After the attack, Booker called for the invocation of the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and/or impeachment to remove Trump.
- Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry (2021–present)
- Subcommittee on Conservation, Climate, Forestry, and Natural Resources
- Subcommittee on Food and Nutrition, Specialty Crops, Organics, and Research (Chair)
- Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, Poultry, Local Food Systems, and Food Safety and Security
- Committee on Foreign Relations (2017–present)
- Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy
- Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy, and Environmental Policy
- Subcommittee on State Department and USAID Management, International Operations, and Bilateral International Development(Ranking)
- Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
- Committee on the Judiciary (2018–present)
- Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights
- Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration
- Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism
- Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (2013-2018)
- Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (2015-2017)
- Committee on Environment and Public Works (2013-2021)
2020 presidential campaign
On February 1, 2019, Booker announced his campaign for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in the 2020 presidential election. Before his announcement, it was widely speculated that he would run for president but he expressed uncertainty about it. Within a month after Booker announced his candidacy, Governor Phil Murphy, Bob Menendez, and every Democratic member of the House of Representatives from New Jersey endorsed him. Booker held a campaign kickoff rally in Newark on April 13. After qualifying for the first five Democratic Party presidential debates, he failed to meet the polling thresholds to participate in the sixth debate in December 2019. On January 13, 2020, Booker announced that he was suspending his campaign. In March 2020, Booker endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for president.
Booker has been called a liberal and progressive Democrat. As a senator, he has a liberal voting record. In a July 2013 Salon interview, Booker said, "there's nothing in that realm of progressive politics where you won't find me." In a September 2013 interview with The Grio, when asked whether he considered himself a progressive, he said he was a Democrat and an American. According to the Humane Society, Booker has had the most pro-animal welfare voting record in the Senate year after year.
Booker supports long-term deficit reduction efforts to ensure economic prosperity, cap and trade taxation to combat climate change, and increased funding for education. He has spoken in favor of creating a federal job guarantee and baby bonds (low-risk savings accounts that minors get access to at age 18). In the Senate, he has emphasized issues of racial and social justice. He played a leading role in the push to pass the First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill. He supports ending the War on Drugs. Booker supports abortion rights and affirmative action. He also supports a single-payer health care plan: in September 2017, he joined Bernie Sanders and 14 other co-sponsors in submitting a single-payer health care plan to Congress called the "Medicare for All" bill.
On foreign policy, Booker supports scaling down U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and opposes intervention in Syria. After the US strike on Syria in April 2017, he criticized military action "without a clear plan" or authorization from Congress. He supports a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Booker has stated that Iran poses a direct threat to American and Israeli security and feels all options should be on the table for dealing with the conflict, but his decision to back the Iran nuclear deal framework damaged his long-term relationship with some Jewish voters and supporters. In an attempt to reduce the damage, he initiated an emergency summit for Jewish leaders, which some of his longstanding supporters did not attend.
In 2009, after Barack Obama became President of the United States, Booker was offered the leadership of the new White House Office of Urban Affairs. He turned the offer down, citing a commitment to Newark.
Booker generated controversy on May 12, 2012, when he appeared on Meet The Press as a surrogate for Obama's reelection campaign and made remarks critical of that campaign. Booker said that the attacks on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital were "nauseating to me on both sides. It's nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough. Stop attacking private equity. Stop attacking Jeremiah Wright." The Romney campaign used the comments against Obama. Booker made follow-up comments clarifying that he believed Obama's attacks on Romney's record at Bain were legitimate but did not retract his point about attacking private equity in general. Two weeks later, Booker's communications director Anne Torres tendered her resignation, although she maintained it was unrelated to Meet the Press.
Affiliations and honors
Booker sits on the board of advisers of the political action committee Democrats for Education Reform. He is a member of the board of trustees at Teachers College, Columbia University and was formerly a member of the Executive Committee at Yale Law School and the board of trustees at Stanford University.
In May 2009, Booker received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from the Newark-based New Jersey Institute of Technology for "his outstanding career in public service as the Mayor of Newark." In May 2009, he received an honorary doctorate from Brandeis University and was a commencement speaker that year. Booker received another honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in December 2010 from Yeshiva University for "his bold vision for Newark and setting a national standard for urban transformation." In June 2011, Booker received an honorary doctor of laws degree for the urban transformation of Newark and served as that year's commencement speaker at Williams College. In May 2012, Booker received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Bard College and gave the commencement speech. In 2010, he delivered the commencement addresses at Pitzer College on May 15; at Columbia University's Teachers College on May 17; and at Suffolk University Law School on May 23. Booker gave the commencement address to New York Law School graduates on May 13, 2011, at Avery Fisher Hall (now David Geffen Hall) at Lincoln Center. He gave the commencement address at the University of Rhode Island in May 2011; he also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. He delivered a commencement address to Stanford University graduates on June 17, 2012, at Stanford Stadium. He also received an honorary degree at Fairleigh Dickinson's 69th commencement ceremony in May 2012.
In May 2013, Booker gave the commencement address at Washington University in St. Louis and received an honorary doctorate of law.
During the 2016 presidential election, when Clinton had an illness described as pneumonia, Donna Brazile, the then-DNC interim chair considered that her ideal replacement ticket would consist of Biden and Booker. But the possibility of a divisive reaction and the possibility of "allowing Trump to capture votes in confusion" caused her to "not entertain any more thoughts of replacing Hillary."
Since 2009, Booker has starred in the documentary series Brick City. The series focuses on Booker's efforts to improve Newark by reducing crime and bring about economic renewal. Brick City won a Peabody Award in 2009 and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy in 2010.
Conan O'Brien "feud"
In the fall of 2009, Tonight Show host Conan O'Brien engaged in a satirical on-air and YouTube feud with Booker, with O'Brien jokingly insulting Newark and Booker responding that he would ban O'Brien from the Newark airport. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for the feud to end during a prepared comedy skit, telling Booker to chalk it up to a head injury O'Brien suffered less than two weeks earlier. Booker then appeared on O'Brien's show and assured viewers that the feud was over and that he was actually a big fan of O'Brien, who agreed that every time he made a joke about Newark, he would donate $500 to the City of Newark, and also made a $50,000 donation to the Newark Now charity, which NBC Universal matched.
In 2012, Booker and tech executives Sarah Ross and Nathan Richardson formed Waywire, a company focused on video sharing technology. Early investors included Oprah Winfrey, Eric Schmidt, Jeff Weiner, and Troy Carter. After Booker's relationship to Waywire was discussed in a front-page New York Times story, board member Andrew Zucker stepped down from his position. Shortly thereafter, Waywire CEO Richardson departed the business as the company shifted its focus from content creation to content curation. In August 2013, Booker told NBC News he intended to resign from the Waywire board and put his holdings in a trust if elected to the Senate; by September, he had resigned from the board and donated his share of the company to charity. Waywire was sold to another video curation business the next month.
In 2016, Booker wrote an autobiography, United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good.
In an article in HuffPost, Shmuly Yanklowitz said of the book:
If there is anything that Booker repeatedly returns to in United, it is that the myopia of contemporary politics leads citizens astray, and leaves them vulnerable to ignoring issues of tangible importance. "I believe that this broken system, which afflicts us all, will be repaired" writes Booker near the end of the book. To repeat an earlier point, what sets Senator Booker's work apart from that of similar political books is that it seeks to elevate discourse rather than bring down opponents of the opposite partisan persuasion.
Booker regularly exercises and has been a vegetarian since 1992, when he was a student at Oxford University. He abstains from alcohol and "has no known vices or addictions" other than coffee. In 2014, Booker began practicing a vegan diet and has expressed his vegan ethical philosophy and advocacy for animals. As of June 2016, Booker worshiped at the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark.
Booker has never been married, and in 2013 he was named one of Town & Country's "Top 40 Bachelors". Although he has generally tried to keep his personal life private, Booker has in the past called himself as a "straight male" and said that he is trying to date more in hopes of finding someone to settle down with. He has been romantically linked to poet Cleo Wade. In March 2019, actress Rosario Dawson confirmed to TMZ that she was in a relationship with Booker.
In a 1992 column in The Stanford Daily, Booker admitted that as a teenager he had "hated gays." He has himself been the target of rumors about being gay and has generally refused to address these on principle, as he explained in 2013:
Because I want to challenge people on their homophobia. I love seeing on Twitter when someone says I'm gay, and I say, "So what does it matter if I am? So be it. I hope you are not voting for me because you are making the presumption that I'm straight."
In 1992, Booker recounted in his column for The Stanford Daily that as a 15-year-old kissing a friend on New Year's Eve, he reached for her breast, had his hand pushed away once and then "reached [his] 'mark.'" The column described Booker's changed attitudes towards sexual relations and how "skewed attitudes" lead to rape. The Daily Caller and Fox News brought up the column during the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings in September 2018.
From 1998 to 2006, Booker lived in Brick Towers, a troubled housing complex in Newark's Central Ward. In November 2006, as one of the last remaining tenants in Brick Towers, Booker left his apartment for the top unit in a three-story rental on Hawthorne Avenue in Newark's South Ward, an area described as "a drug- and gang-plagued neighborhood of boarded-up houses and empty lots." Brick Towers has since been demolished, and a new mixed-income development was built there in 2010.
In 2020, Booker learned that he and entertainer RuPaul are cousins, after both appeared on the TV show Finding Your Roots.
|Nonpartisan||Sharpe James (incumbent)||28,363||52.9|
|Nonpartisan||Ronald L. Rice||10,337||23.2|
|Nonpartisan||Cory Booker (incumbent)||22,745||59.1|
|Nonpartisan||Clifford J. Minor||13,570||35.3|
|Nonpartisan||Yvonne Garrett Moore||1,703||4.4|
|Nonpartisan||Mirna L. White||444||1.2|
|Democratic||Rush Holt Jr.||61,463||16.8||N/A|
|Ed the Barber||Edward Stackhouse Jr.||5,138||0.4||N/A|
|Alimony Reform Now||Stuart David Meissner||2,051||0.2||N/A|
|Unity is Strength||Pablo Olivera||1,530||0.1||N/A|
|Freedom of Choice||Antonio Nico Sabas||1,336||0.1||N/A|
|Democratic-Republican||Eugene Martin Lavergne||1,041||0.08||N/A|
|Swing to Democratic from Republican||Swing|
|Democratic||Cory Booker (incumbent)||1,043,866||55.8||+0.9|
|Economic Growth||Hank Schroeder||5,704||0.3||+0.3|
|Democratic-Republican||Eugene Martin Lavergne||3,890||0.2||+0.1|
|Independent||Antonio Nico Sabas||3,544||0.2||+0.12|
|Democratic||Cory Booker (incumbent)||366,105||89.4%|
|Democratic||Cory Booker (incumbent)||2,541,178||57.23%||+1.39%|
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I finally just made a decision that I was going to become vegan. I remember my last non-vegan meal was Election Day, November 2014.
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