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U.S. Senator Cory Booker is polishing up his political road show for the Iowa caucuses.
But back in Hudson County, most political observers believe he has about as much chance of becoming the Democratic nominee for president as a snowball in hell.
Despite the fact that Hudson County’s favorite son, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), has announced a ground game for Booker – which likely includes heavy arm-twisting to keep the Democratic faithful in line — the real object of Booker’s presidential run appears to be to get as much free press for his senatorial re-election before his campaign has to start paying for it. The question is: how long Booker can hold on before he is forced to drop out of his presidential run and pay serious attention to his reelection to the U.S. Senate?
Regardless of Booker’s efforts to bolster his credentials as a progressive, the progressive favorite in
Hudson County appears to be Elizabeth Warren.
But old school seasoned political observers in and near Hudson County see Kamala Harris, not Warren as the best candidate to beat Presidential Donald Trump. They believe Harris’ Hollywood money will help her keep pace with the so-called front-runners once the primary season heats up.
Hudson County will likely see a repeat of 2008, but instead of being forced to choose between Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, Democrat progressives will need to choose between Bernie Sanders, Warren, or Harris. If Biden is still in the mix, he might attract older more traditional Democrats.
Booker by that time won’t be anywhere on the presidential radar – not even likely a contender for vice president.
This is bad news for potential GOP candidates seeking to use Booker’s executive record as mayor of Newark as a prime example of leader of a bureaucratic swamp. One prominent Democratic funder once claimed she found it easier to get an appointment with then President Obama than an appointment with Booker while mayor.
Critics point out other problems with Booker, especially his riches to rags story, a man who grew up in one of the wealthiest communities in the state, went to some of the finest schools, and eventually got elected mayor to one of the poorest cities in the nation – hardly a hood kid making good.
Booker is as oratorically impressive as Obama and perhaps even John F. Kennedy – even if some critics claim they can’t remember what exactly he’s said in a speech unless he drops a political bomb such as “I am Spartacus.”
Booker’s transition to the U.S. Senate allowed him to seem more presidential, although his voting record tends to mirror Menendez’s.
In the U.S. Senate race, Booker does have a primary challenger, but his real threat comes from the GOP in the general election, most likely Hirsh Singh, who has already positioned himself as the GOP front runner – hoping for an upset victory in a state becoming more and more Democratic. A resent study showed Democrats registered more new voters by far than the GOP. But part of the problem is that the GOP base is shrinking. According to a study by one of the prominent moving companies, New Jersey ranked number one in the country for people moving out. While the poll never asked about taxes, the report said the cost of living was one factor. Many of those moving to other states are senior citizens, a significant pool from which the GOP draws its votes.
The 2018 general election saw the GOP crushed in a number of traditionally strong Republican areas of the state.
Singh and fellow Republican Joey Rullo believe the GOP losses were the result of Republican incumbents running away from GOP President Donald Trump, instead of embracing Trump’s ideas. One Bergen County Republican said, “This turned off voters who supported Trump
While it is true that GOP candidates in 2018 allowed progressive Democrats to dominate the message with anti-Trump rhetoric rather than focusing on bread and butter Republican issues such as the state’s high taxes, the Trump factor is credited as the reason for many of the Democratic victories.
If the national rage against Trump subsides somewhat going into the 2020 election, Singh and others hope to bring the party back to its fundamentals.
A political election is a numbers game. Historically, the GOP campaigns in Democratic strongholds like Hudson County in order to reduce the margin of Democratic victory while getting out the vote in strong GOP parts of the state.
But the GOP base is even shrinking in strong Republican districts, making this more difficult. Some Republicans also complain that the Hudson County Republican organization picks extremely weak candidates, people without a strong legislative record to run on. While most people understand a Republican running in Hudson County is largely a suicide mission, the need to cut the vote becomes even more critical with a shrinking GOP base elsewhere in the state.
Bergen County – which was once a GOP stronghold – has been turning out a Democratic vote rivaling and sometimes exceeding the vote totals in Hudson and Essex counties. This has given Democrats there the idea that they can also unseat previously untouchable GOP freeholders, mayors and council members.
Singh hopes to galvanize the GOP base in Hudson County. There are strong pockets of support in places like Bayonne, Kearny, Secaucus, and West New York. Trump, surprisingly, got a significant vote in Hoboken in 2016. North Bergen overseen by state Senator Nicholas Sacco – one of the main Democratic political bosses – has seen increasing support for Trump.
“Back in 2016, Trump had support; but people were quiet about it,” one North Bergen official said. “Now they seem more open in their support.”
Will Singh embracing Trump in his challenge of Booker reverse the Democrat tide enough to steal the U.S. Senate seat?
Only time will tell.
- Al Sullivan
- Barack Obama
- Bergen County
- Bernie Sanders
- Bob Menendez
- Cory Booker
- Donald Trump
- Elizabeth Warren
- Hillary Clinton
- Hirsh Singh
- Hudson County
- Hudson County Democrats
- Joe Biden
- Joe Rullo
- Kamala Harris
- Nick Sacco
- West New York
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