US Senate candidate Cory Booker has made himself into a political brand

Hollywood star Eva Longoria and Oprah Winfrey endorse Newark Mayor

US Editor

It was set to be standard campaign fare – a final rally in a hotel ballroom in a downtown Newark hotel with confetti, balloons and a Hollywood star to make sure enough folks showed up. The candidate is Cory Booker, and the celebrity Eva Longoria, former cast member of ‘Desperate Housewives’.

Nothing else about New Jersey’s special election for a US Senate seat is standard however. Certainly there is nothing desperate about it for Mr Booker, mayor of Newark since 2006. Few doubt he will emerge the winner in primary elections on Tuesday or that he will also prevail on 16 October when voters will pick between him and a Republican opponent. (The state hasn’t sent a Republican to the Senate since 1972.)

Mayor Booker can “start looking for a Washington apartment,” right now concedes Maurice Carroll, who directed a Quinnipiac University survey that last week showed him steamrolling his rivals for the Democratic nomination. The polls showed 54 per cent supporting Mr Booker. His nearest rival was US Congressman Frank Pallone with the backing of only 17 per cent of voters. In the race as well is Rush Holt, also a member of Congress, and Sheila Oliver, the speaker of the state legislature who had hopes of becoming the first woman and African American elected to the US Senate from New Jersey.

For all three the primary campaign of the last several weeks has been an exercise in frustration (and possibly futility). Even new revelations of Mr Booker’s involvement in a video-sharing internet start-up called Waywire that has earned him around $1 million (£646,000) have done nothing to slow his momentum. When they gathered for a first TV debate last month, the mayor didn’t show up; he preferred to attend a fancy fund-raising event on his behalf on the Hudson River across from Manhattan hosted by Oprah Winfrey.

That Mr Booker had a bigger future has been clear to national Democrats for a long while. Some in the party had hoped he would challenge Chris Christie, the Republican Governor of New Jersey and Republican heavyweight, who is seeking re-election in November. Mr Booker had already telegraphed his interest in seeking a US Senate seat instead when one of the state’s sitting senators, Frank Lautenberg, died. That meant Mr Booker could pursue his ambition sooner than he had thought.

It is not that his stewardship of Newark has been beyond criticism. While Mr Booker has done much to shine attention on its multiple problems and attract some small amounts of private investment – including a $100 million persona gift from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to help city schools – the scars of its past problems, many dating back to race riots that ravaged its urban-scape in 1967, very much remain. Today 26 per cent of Newark’s residents are living in poverty, nearly three times the level nationally.

Where he has succeeded is in making himself into a political brand. A tall and imposing 44-year-old African-American bachelor with a shaved head and ready smile, Mr Booker commanded a prime-time spot at the Democratic convention last year. He attained almost hero status last year after dashing into flames to save a neighbour from a house fire. He is famously prolific on Twitter with words of compassion. “Be kind to one another because we are all a bit more fragile than we let on,” he posted today.

When David Cameron, the Prime Minister, visited New York last year, he chose to spend several hours across the river with Mr Booker in New Jersey. Mr Cameron said he wanted to “exchange some information on schooling, on crime, on police accountability, on regeneration”. The mayor, we also were reminded, studied at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. Bill Clinton did the same.

When Mr Booker did turn up for a final debate last week, his rivals did what they could to puncture him. “The mayor talks about how he’s hands-on, but he’s not even in Newark at least 20 per cent of the time and now he’s got this new Internet start up,” Mr Pallone attempted.

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice