Booker’s Fundraising Spartacus Moment

U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) at this weekend's Iowa steak fry.

Cory Booker was begging for money all weekend.  It may not have seemed all that presidential, but it was

InsiderNJ reporter/columnist Fred Snowflack
InsiderNJ reporter/columnist Fred Snowflack

inevitable.

The senator’s presidential campaign bluntly says he needs to raise about $1.7 million by the end of the month to stay in the race. Money came in all weekend lowering that figure, but the picture still isn’t all that rosy.

Which brings us to an intriguing question. Just why has Booker’s campaign not grained traction? Sure, he has qualified for upcoming debates, but virtually all national and state polls put him in the low single digits.

This does seem odd, even a bit perplexing.

Booker is not without passion and he certainly has shown a willingness to speak out.

Recall his theatrical performance in the Senate in opposition to what turned out to be the successful nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Republicans have had fun ridiculing his “I am Spartacus” moment, but you would think such stridency

Kirk Douglas as Spartacus.
Kirk Douglas as Spartacus.

would appeal to those on the left. Maybe not.

Of more substance, everyone likes to talk about “bipartisanship” these days. That can be a hollow call. To many. “bipartisanship” means the other side swings around to their point of view.

Nonetheless, Booker has some legitimate bipartisan accomplishments.

Former EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg wonders if former Gov. Chris Christie would be a good choice after President Donald Trump passed over Congressman John Ratcliffe for the position of Director of National Intelligence.
Former Gov. Chris Christie and President Donald Trump.

As mayor of Newark, he seemingly had a good rapport with Chris Christie. Recall the love-fest involving the mayor and the governor when Mark Zuckerberg donated money to benefit the Newark school system.

More recently, he worked with Kentucky Republican Rand Paul on criminal justice reform legislation that was passed and signed by the president. That’s not the type of stuff that happens too often these days.

Booker speaks well and with passion (as he did, below, this weekend in his Iowa Steak Fry Speech), even if he has a tendency to repeat the same stories about city life in Newark. That’s not a real problem, because the people listening are probably hearing them for the first time.

At times, he sounds more like a preacher than a politician, which in itself, is not a bad thing.

Of the three debates so far, Booker in my view did well in every one.

The Booker campaign sent out a message after the most recent clash in Houston saying the senator won the debate “hands down,” Even if you excuse the over-the-top rhetoric, Booker did a good job.

But surprisingly, nothing has given Booker a boost in the polls, which most assuredly makes fundraising hard. A Monmouth poll put Booker at 9 percent among Democratic presidential candidates in New Jersey. It’s tough to win anything nationally with less than 10 percent of the people in your home state on your side.

A few weeks ago, Bob Menendez, who like most elected Democrats in New Jersey backs Booker, said the senator is putting together strong organizations in such early primary and caucus states as Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada.

That may be, but the real question is, does Booker make it that far?

At around 11 a.m. Monday, he was about $1.2 million short of his goal.

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