For most of the career of Sen. Cory Booker, he’s been at the center of establishment politics, but now, thanks to the DNC’s high bar for participation in the Jan. 14 debate, he finds himself on the outside looking in.
With the DNC’s reliance on polling and campaign cash metrics for qualifying, he faces the prospect that for the second time in a row he won’t make the televised debate stage, less than a month before the first Democratic voters vote in for the Feb 3 Iowa Caucus.
Not since his days of running as an insurgent, confronting the powerful incumbent Newark Mayor Sharpe James, has Booker faced such long odds.
Initially, the Democratic Party had started out with the most diverse field of presidential candidates in its history. Now, with the exit of Senator Kamala Harris and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro and the entrance of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the field is skewing to being whiter and wealthier, a lot wealthier.
So, now the party that’s major unifying theme is its advocacy for the 99 percent, appears more like a pyramid scheme where the number of donors and the amount of cash you raise is what determines your relevance to the DNC process.
Sen. Booker told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Jan. 2 that the DNC’s restrictive criteria was generating “a sense of frustration” among voters he had spoken with in Iowa who saw the DNC as “excluding people from a debate stage because they don’t have the money that billionaires have to get on these stages.”
New Jersey’s native son then went on to list his successes in the Hawkeye state that he felt the DNC was ignoring.
“As Iowa Starting Line just pointed out, I am the number three candidate in just general popularity and net favorability in the whole state,” he told Mitchell. “We have the most endorsements and in the kind of surge we are seeing I am the number one campaign for the percentage of Iowa women contributing too.”
He continued. “Instead of letting Iowans choose” this “is being dictated” by “Washington D.C. leaders. It makes no sense.”
According to Ballotpedia, the presidential candidates have until January 10 to qualify with “225,000 unique contributors and at least 5 percent support in four eligible polls or 7 percent support in two eligible state-level polls.”
There’s pretty convincing evidence that Booker’s campaign is already being marginalized and even disappeared by media outlets like the New York Times that were once critical to establishing his national brand.
The Booker stories getting play are the ones fixated on how much money he has raised.
Consider that in a Jan. 4 New York Times lengthy round-up, written in the aftermath of President Trump’s decision to takeout Iranian General Soleimani entitled “Airstrike Pushes Foreign Policy to Front of Presidential Race”, there was NO reference to Senator Booker, who is actually a member of the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee.
The views of former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg were all incorporated.
Also cited by the ‘paper of record’ was former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who the Times reported “rebuked” Senator Sanders for describing President Trump’s targeted killing of the Iranian General as an assassination.
Similarly, in an NBC report surveying the 2020 Democratic presidential field’s response to the latest developments in Iraq, Mr. Booker’s take was also MIA.
It’s not that Booker did not a have relevant take on our delicate geopolitical moment that he’s honed after years of serious contemplation and study of these issues.
“Make no mistake – Qasem Soleimani was a ruthless, evil leader who had orchestrated countless attacks that have cost American lives,” Booker said in a statement posted on his Senate website. “Today, many questions remain and must be answered on the intelligence reports that led to this action, what steps were undertaken to prepare our personnel and partners in the region, and the consequences of an escalatory attack with no clear endgame.”
He continued, “This President has no long-term strategy for dealing with Iran, bringing stability to the Middle East, or avoiding military conflict with Iran. The reality is that Americans are evacuating from cities across the region because this morning Americans at home and abroad are at risk from Iran’s potential retaliatory actions.”
It appears from the trajectory of the DNC nomination process up to now. the party has prematurely nationalized the contest. As a result, they have marginalized the opinions of voters in places like Iowa and New Hampshire.
It has been fairly argued that the lack of voters of color in these two early voting states gets the entire intra-party deliberation off to a non-representative start. where the issues relevant to older white voters frame the debate for a party that’s totally reliant in a General Election on voters of color to win.
Overlay that with the DNC debate culling process, and the whole contraption starts to look more like the Electoral College than a free and open contest.