Any time Newark Mayor Cory Booker makes a move, political or otherwise, his 1.3 million Twitter followers are the first to know.
Vanity Fair magazine has anointed him “America’s Twitter boyfriend.”
Politico’s Dylan Byers writes that it’s how Booker “drives the narrative” and included in his article the mayor’s comments on The Daily Show that Twitter “is another tool to communicate with voters.”
But the announcement from Newark’s celebrity mayor explaining why his next move will probably be for a seat in the United States Senate ran much longer than a tweet.
And, in typical Booker fashion, it took a lot of people by surprise while at the same time instantly spawning national headlines.
Speculation heated up even further when political sources told NBC 4 New York unequivocally that “Booker will seek the U.S. Senate seat held by fellow Democrat Frank Lautenberg, when his term is up in 2014.”
“I’m not going to soft pedal this,” is how Booker explained it to David Giambusso, of the Newark Star Ledger, once his announcement hit national headlines. “It is my intention to run for U.S. Senate.”
Senator Lautenberg’s office, after hours of silence, issued a succinct reply to numerous inquiries from the media about the soon-to-be 89-year-old’s political future. The retort could be taken as a brush-off to the media and to Booker’s surprise announcement, headlined: “This is not the time for political distractions.”
The brief statement read:
“Senator Lautenberg is focused on passing a critical disaster relief bill for New Jersey and addressing America’s broken gun laws. The last several months and weeks have been a painful time for New Jersey and America, and the Senator is working on the tough issues we face.”
But the statement ended, “the Senator will address politics next year.” And “politics next year” are key words for pundits and followers of the two highly popular elected officials in the Garden State: Republican Governor Chris Christie and Democratic mayor Cory Booker, who, individually and together, have firmly established themselves as national icons.
The sometimes friends, sometimes rivals and evenly-matched political combatants both have a credible shot at victory in what was anticipated to be an entertaining, if hard-fought, gubernatorial battle coming on the heels of a hard-fought presidential election.
“We don’t know who the standard bearer will be now,” Giambusso told theGrio, “but they won’t have the national presence of Cory Booker.”
“It would have been a classic match-up,” Tom Moran said, speaking to theGrio. The editorial page editor of the Star Ledger, who has closely followed Booker’s political career, added, “If you’re a Democrat, Booker would have been your best chance.”
The state’s bonus from a Booker vs. Christie race was seen as increased revenue during the anticipated campaign, and, perhaps as a point of pride, prolonged national media attention; a prime venue for exciting politics in a post-presidential year.
Yesterday’s announcement changed all that and left a lot of local Democrats and Booker supporters disappointed as well as unsure about the mayor’s strategy for respectfully easing out the revered, proactive and very independent member of the Senate.