Biography of Cory Booker

Is Cory Booker the Democratic Party's Next President?

Cory Booker picture
Cory Booker is the mayor of Newark, N.J., and a potential candidate for New Jersey governor in 2013. Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images Entertainment

Cory Booker is a prominent member of the Democratic Party and U.S. senator who is widely believed to be a leading candidate for president as soon as 2020. Booker is a former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, who considered, but decided against, taking on Republican Gov. Chris Christie in the 2013 election

Booker has said he will not run for the White House in 2020, but many observers believe he is laying the groundwork to unseat Republican Donald Trump, who was elected to a first term in 2016.

They believe Booker's first signal at a 2020 candidacy we his unprecedented testimony against a colleague in the U.S. Senate, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who was nominated for attorney general by Trump.

Booker's speech in opposition to his colleague was compared to former President Barack Obama's soaring rhetoric. Said Booker of his decision to testify against Sessions: "In the choice between standing with Senate norms or standing up for what my conscience tells me is best for our country, I will always choose conscience and country. ... The arc of the moral universe does not just naturally curve toward justice. We must bend it."

Obama often referred to the "arc of history" and often used the quote: "The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” 

Critics saw Booker's decision to testify against Sessions a clear sign of his intention to run for president in 2020. Wrote Republican U.S. Sen.

Tom Cotton of Arkansas: “I’m very disappointed that Sen. Booker has chosen to start his 2020 presidential campaign by testifying against Sen. Sessions."

Education

Cory Booker holds both a bachelor's degree political science and master's degree in sociology from Stanford University and a bachelor's degree in Modern History at Oxford University.

He was a Rhodes Scholar and completed his law degree at Yale University.

Political Career

Booker was first elected to the U.S. Senate in a 2013 special election. He was re-elected to a six-year term in November 2014.

Booker was elected to the Newark city council at age 29 and served from 1998 to 2002. In 2006, at age 37, he was first elected Newark mayor and heads the state's largest, and perhaps most troubled, city. He was re-elected Newark mayor in 2010. He turned down an offer from President Barack Obama in 2009 to head the newly created White House Office of Urban Affairs Policy.

Booker said he was considering a run for governor against Christie, whose popularity surged largely due to his handling of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and was seeking a second term in 2013. In June of that year, he announced he would seek the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the death of U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died at age 89.

In 2011, Time magazine named Booker one of the 100 most influential people.

He was a prominent surrogate for President Barack Obama in the 2012 election against Republican Mitt Romney and spoke at that year's Democratic National Convention.

Personal Life

Before being elected Newark mayor, Booker served as a staff attorney for the Urban Justice Center in Newark.

Booker is a heavy user of social media, particularly Twitter, in communicating with his constituents. He is single and has no children.

Controversies

Booker has developed a reputation as Newark mayor for being plainspoken and blunt - characteristics that are somewhat rare in politicians and occasionally land them in hot water. During the 2012 election, Booker caught some flak when he described his party's attacks on Republican Mitt Romney's work at Bain Capital "nauseating." The Romney picked up on the comments and used them in the campaign.

Key Accomplishments

Booker is an outspoken advocate for boosting the quality of public education in his city, and has led some particularly successful reforms as Newark mayor. He is also known for shining a light of poverty.

In 2012, he embarked on a weeklong campaign to live on food stamps and lived on less than $30 worth of groceries.

"The constrained food options I have for this one short week highlight for me ... what many hardworking families have to deal with week after week," Booker wrote.

Booker said he embarked on the food stamp project following a complaint by a constituent that nutrition is not the government's responsibility. "This comment caused me to reflect on the families and children in my community who benefit from SNAP assistance and deserve deeper consideration," he wrote. "In my own quest to better understand the outcomes of SNAP assistance, I suggested to this specific Twitter user that we both live on a SNAP equivalent food budget for a week and document our experience."

In "25 Accomplishments in 25 Months," Booker and the Newark council proclaimed successes in adding more police to the city streets, reducing violent crime, expanding public parks, improving access to public transportation and attracting new businesses to the area and creating jobs.

Cory Booker Memes

In 2012, Booker saved a woman from a burning house, news of which spread rapidly across social media. On the social network Twitter, users elevated Booker to a sort of hero status, writing that he could "win a game of Connect Four with only three moves" and that "super heroes dress up as Cory Booker on Halloween."