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Cory Booker this morning formally opted out of the 2020 presidential race, sending New Jersey pols – trying to heal still-fresh intra-party wounds – scrambling as they try to figure out how to project implacable unity.
The junior senator from New Jersey and former mayor of Newark ran up against the money factor and had to take a knee prior to what he hoped would be a competitive showing in early primary states despite what the polls showed.
It didn’t work out that way, as would-be allies on the ground back here in his jaded home state grimaced through the gyrations of his doomed effort.
“Nearly one year ago, I got in the race for president because I believed to my core that the answer to the common pain Americans are feeling right now, the answer to Donald Trump’s hatred and division, is to reignite our spirit of common purpose to take on our biggest challenges and build a more just and fair country for everyone,” Booker wrote in an email to his supporters.
“I’ve always believed that. I still believe that. I’m proud I never compromised my faith in these principles during this campaign to score political points or tear down others. And maybe I’m stubborn, but I’ll never abandon my faith in what we can accomplish when we join together.
“I will carry this fight forward — I just won’t be doing it as a candidate for president this year,” he added.
Booker received considerable praise for his performance in debates but seldom registered above two percent in polling, which prevented him from manning the stage as the contest intensified.
Other candidates stole his narrative thunder, perhaps most obviously South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who ran with urban, boots-in-local-politics branding Booker had hopd for his own campaign story.
In short, InsiderNJ asked last year:
The question now, as both men pursue the presidency, is whether Buttigieg, at 9% to Booker’s 3% in the latest Monmouth University Poll, and posting $7 million in first quarter fundraising to Booker’s $5 million – saved himself the trip of a dusty tour of duty in the cloakrooms of the U.S. Senate by simply staying locally grounded in a Trump-insane environment.
Booker’s run was complicated by the fact that he’s running for reelection this year in New Jersey.
A variation on the following message went out earlier today:
“Cory ran for president as a uniter and a healer and a uniter and still believes that’s what our country needs right now. These are the same things he’s championed his entire career and Cory refused to compromise them to score political points or tear down others.
“Cory has always said he got in the race to win, and wouldn’t continue if there’s no path to victory.
“We’ve reached the point where we need more money to scale up and continue building a campaign that can win — money that is harder to raise having been blocked from the next debate stage and with urgent business of impeachment rightly keeping him in Washington.
“So Cory has chosen to suspend his campaign now, take care of his staff, and give his supporters time to consider the other choices in the field.
“Cory will run for re-election to the Senate and continue doing what he always has: run at the toughest challenges and build uncommon coalitions to deliver more justice and opportunity for everyone.”
The question is, now that he’s out of the race, whom should Booker back for president in 2020?