NJ For Change

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Cory Booker

"We took on a Goliath, not just in Sharpe James but really in the statewide party apparatus that came in to work against us." -- Cory Booker

Ah-oh, what a difference four years can make.
But this time around, even before Mr. James dropped out of the race, Mr. Booker had become a different kind of candidate — one whose political organization and style now bear more than a passing resemblance to that of his former rival, the flamboyant five-term mayor.
Booker has hired several of Sharpe James’ former advisers and his list of contributors is now loaded with contractors looking do business with Newark. He hired Message and Media, the consulting firm that managed Jon Corzine's successful campaign for governor and he now relies on the local contractors and real estate companies that fueled the James’ political machine.
A comparison of Booker's campaign filings from 2002 to 2006 shows that the number of developers giving him money has increased dramatically over the past four years, with dozens of real estate and building companies such as, JB Construction, JDS Builders and River Terminal Development Company accounting for tens of thousands of dollars he received in campaign contributions in 2005.

Speaking recently to a group of high school students, Booker sternly criticized the mayor for raising money from developers with business interests in Newark. "Now," he added with a faint smile, "a lot of these folks are giving me money, so I'm implicating myself."
"We're not going to become what we're trying to replace” -- Cory Booker

In interviews over the past several weeks, Booker has said that he would never govern like James, and that if he wins on May 9 in the nonpartisan election, his administration will be more transparent and free of patronage. He has pledged to cut the mayor's salary and reject campaign contributions from city workers if he is elected.
But he admits that his outlook has become more pragmatic. "The last time gave us a lot to learn from," Mr. Booker said recently in an interview at his Central Ward headquarters. After lacking a traditional Democratic organization, he added, this time, "We have a full breadth of it, from across the party to the S.E.I.U (Service Employees International Union), which was Sharpe's biggest and tightest union, which is now with us."
I can only hope Cory Booker will not turn out to be, as I said earlier this week, a smoother and better educated rip-off artist than Sharpe James. It’s hard to imagine anyone could be more corrupt than James, but I was hoping for a complete break from the past. The Democratic Party was fully in bed with James and bares much responsibility for what has gone in Newark. Will it be the dawn of a new day if Booker becomes mayor of Newark, or has the Democratic Party machine merely gotten themselves a new front man? Time will tell, I still have my fingers crossed.
Anonymous Jim - PRS said...

His new-found popularity with developers is, in my view, not good news. However, like you, I'll keep my fingers crossed, keeping in mind that the Machine is well-rooted, big and very, very powerful.

3:23 PM  
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