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Booker preparing for fight to keep his Senate seat



file photo by Boyd Loving

Booker preparing for fight to keep his Senate seat

MAY 25, 2014, 10:45 PM    LAST UPDATED: SUNDAY, MAY 25, 2014, 10:46 PM

Maybe it’s the positive thoughts he pushes out at least daily on Facebook and Twitter, but Sen. Cory Booker says he’s more optimistic about finding bipartisan solutions in Washington than he was when he arrived seven months ago.

“I came down here with low expectations and my experience is better and better and better,” Booker said in an interview last week, ticking off bipartisan bills to expand apprenticeships and study year-round schools, and touting his solo plan that could lead to other states’ contributing toward future New Jersey highway projects.

But while Booker’s enthusiasm grew for his new job, the rock-star image he built in his previous job as the mayor who turned Newark around is taking a hit.

This month’s intensely competitive campaign to choose his replacement as Newark mayor highlighted a $30 million shortfall in the city budget Booker left. The winner of that campaign, Ras Baraka, was a city councilman and public school principal who frequently criticized the Booker school reform plan that attracted a $100 million donation from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, but produced questionable results.

Booker also touted his ability to bring down crime in the city, and in 2008, the city murder rate had dropped to 67. But budget cuts after that then reduced the size of the police force to 1,038 from 1,317 last year. And there were 111 murders last year, the most in 23 years.

The state comptroller also issued a damning report in March saying that the city government was inattentive to corruption and patronage at the independent Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corp., which had managed the city’s water delivery and reservoirs in Morris, Passaic and Sussex counties.

Among the findings referred to state prosecutors were that a Booker ally serving as the agency’s director wrote herself unauthorized payroll checks, handed out no-bid contracts to close personal associates, and made surreptitious risky investments that lost $500,000.

“I don’t think my legacy needs defending,” Booker said when asked about the bashing he has been taking. He said that he got Baraka’s endorsement for senator in the October election to fill the remainder of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s term, and won 90 percent of the votes cast in Newark against Republican Steve Lonegan.

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One thought on “Booker preparing for fight to keep his Senate seat

  1. “I came down here with low expectations and my experience is better and better and better,” Booker said..

    If this statement is true, then we’re looking at trouble after the primary season is over. The two parties are likely scheming to cooperate over ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ for their own benefit, but much to the detriment of the country as a whole.

    I’d be much happier to hear Booker complain about not being able to ram his legislative agenda through (presuming he’s actually got one and is not just thinking about his next social occasion or some higher office he’d like to hold).

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