Dear readers, today’s PPFA post is its 299th on the WordPress platform. Whether you’re an original reader or a new one, I’m just honored you’re here now. This Monday, to celebrate the 300th post, we’ll take a look back at some of the website’s high(and low)lights. I hope you’ll join me as I reminisce.
Today, however, I’ll attempt to discuss Cory Booker in about 500 words. He actually declared a week ago, but it’s been extremely busy at PPFAHQ, and it still is!
Like just about every other Democrat in the country, Cory Booker is running for president. Considering the amount of energy he has in him, he might never stop.
But can he win?
On the one hand, he lays a pretty good claim to being the next Barack Obama. He’s a young, inspiring, left-leaning African-American Senator who lit up the last Democratic National Convention. If it worked for Obama, it’s reasonable to conclude recent history can repeat.
On the other hand, Obama’s status as “First” consolidated nearly every last African-American vote in a small 2008 Democratic field. Not only is Booker not “First” this time around, but he now will share the spotlight with another black candidate, Kamala Harris, and this time in a crowded primary that will give African Americans many options. Moreover, a party that was nearly 60 percent female in the last Democratic Primary will likely look to Harris before Booker more often than not. On the substance, meanwhile, Booker will face push-back from the rising progressive movement due to his close ties to Wall Street and the pharmaceutical lobby. The “Lefty Litmus” (trademarked by PPFA starting immediately!) might doom his campaign unless he can make up those losses elsewhere. However, moderate or establishment voters are likely waiting for Vice President Joe Biden or Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.
And yet, I wouldn’t rule him out. His strategy accepts as gospel that the way to win the Democratic Primary is to win minority voters. (True enough, that’s a major reason why Hillary Clinton defeated Bernie Sanders in 2016 but also why she lost to Obama eight years earlier.) Beyond his African-American heritage, Booker has legitimate bonafides in his minority quest. He still lives in a multifamily house in Newark, a majority-black city of which he was mayor, which probably places him in the most urban setting of any U.S. Senator. In 2017 he became the first sitting Senator to testify against another when he opposed Jeff Session’s appointment to head the Justice Department on account of past racially charged transgressions. Meanwhile, not limiting his minority outreach to just the people that look like him, he made sure that one of his first post-candidacy interviews was with Univision, where he showed off his fluent Spanish.
I think Booker also has a chance to endear himself to voters with his relentless positivity and infectious energy. The vegetarian turned vegan (who defends animals like the rest of us defend children) is in great shape, does pushups in his hotel rooms, and puts everything he has into every speech he gives. These attributes, spearheaded by his adrenaline, gives him a chance to earn a fair share of younger liberals. Still, most progressive voters will surely stick with Sanders and Warren to the bitter end, so Booker would be the greatest beneficiary if Biden chooses not to run or struggles as a candidate. I think establishment voters and a lot of African Americans will have loyalty to Obama’s loyal VP, but Booker will look to slide into that spot. In the meantime, I’d advise him to gradually push his chips into South Carolina, the fourth contest on the calendar and the Democratic Primary with the second highest percentage of black voters — a whopping 61 percent, which trails only Mississippi among states that did exit polling in 2016:
Even if he lets other candidates drain their treasuries in Iowa and New Hampshire, a win in South Carolina a week before Super Tuesday can give him decent momentum just as the primary goes national. I think he’s the sixth or seventh most likely nominee.
Odds to win the nomination: 12/1
Planetary classification: Major planet
Perhaps President Trump, who infamously saddled Jeb Bush with the “Low Energy” nickname, might criticize Booker for the opposite… “Cory ‘High Energy’ Booker, who never stops talking or moving, is so annoying. Way too much energy. Not like me. But I don’t have low energy like Jeb either. People often tell me I have the perfect amount of energy. Even keel!”