By James J. Devine
Newark Mayor Cory Booker became a household name and established his political credentials with millions of dollars raised among Wall Street insiders and other wealthy people who have no concern for people in New Jersey.
The Newark mayor has a national reputation that is undeserved by his actual accomplishments as a politically divisive absentee who failed to stop rising violent crime rates, unemployment and property taxes in his hometown.
Booker temporarily quelled violence statistics by loosing belligerent tactics that have resulted in calls for a federal takeover of the police department, but his massive layoff of 1,150 city workers ended that charade.
Reps. Frank Pallone and Rush Holt, as well as Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, have far more substantive records of leadership and achievement albeit without the celebrity for celebrity’s sake that Booker has.
A state appellate court ruled that Booker was not authorized to cast a vote last year for a city council replacement when Donald Payne Jr. won his father’s seat in Congress. Booker’s illegal vote triggered a riot at City Hall.
Booker also sought to sell off the municipal water supply, but he failed to cash in on the asset when his own council allies denied him permission to monetize the common wealth for short-term gain.
By any substantive measure of success, Booker is a failure as mayor. That simple reality is a significant liability as he runs for US Senate against real Democrats with solid records.
Among the Democratic Senate contenders, only Booker supports public school privatization and other neoliberal economic tactics that are the hallmark of Tea Party Republicans. Booker also raised millions from Mitt Romney’s pals at Bain Capital, Christian cause financier Foster Friess, and other arch-conservative donors.
Potentially entrusting a lifetime in the US Senate to an unreliable Democrat, especially in this hyper-partisan political environment, would be a risky move for progressive Garden State voters but polling uniformly shows a tendency to do just that with about a month remaining in the special primary election campaign.
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