Cory Booker Will Feel the Heat in New Jersey
Why his ties to Wall Street may hurt his popularity
The views expressed in this Op-Ed do not reflect that of Loop 21.
It's just beginning for Cory Booker. Yes, the national political news will soon move elsewhere, but locally -- where the negatives were already apparent -- it is just beginning.
Progressives in New Jersey will continue to link Booker to Wall Street, and they'll even go a step further. Soon he won't be Cory Booker: "Man of the People" who saves old ladies from burning buildings. Nope, he'll be the "black" Jon Corzine who is so chatty with Wall Street that he sold a public school system on a charter school dollar and a dream.
Remember Corzine? He was the ex-Goldman Sachs guy was going to reform New Jersey. But through stints as a senator and governor, all he managed to do was alienate voters and set the stage for Chris Christie to take the governorship -- first Republican to win statewide office in 12 years.
Booker may have thought he could stanch the bleeding by appearing on Rachel Maddow last night. Let me disabuse him of that notion.
[ALSO READ: Booker Criticizes Obama's Ad Against Romney]
That "interview" was a soliloquy without an audience. Maddow was too busy lobbing underhanded softballs, and Booker was busy trying to appear "shocked" and "outraged" that the GOP tried to take advantage of his "gaffe." The only thing working hard during the interview was Booker's deodorant, because he was sweating, hoping he could pull the okie-doke on an unwilling audience.
On top of that, there was no gaffe. This was a political calculation clearly done by a history major -- because it doesn't add up right. As Steve Kornacki pointed out in his excellent piece on Sunday, Booker raises considerable sums from Wall Street and has no problem tapping connections he long ago made in the halls of Stanford, Oxford, and Yale. Booker will need all of that and more when he runs for Senate in 2014, so he probably figured why not start defending the Wall St. boys now when they could use a little heavy lifting?
As popular as Booker is nationally, he isn't as lovable among those in Newark. In his 2010 election he barely reached 60% of the vote against some sloppy competition. Kornacki points out in a follow-up piece, "in post-meltdown America, intimate ties to Wall Street can be poisonous inside the [Democratic] party." And that's what Booker seemed to miss in this calculus. But that's okay because plenty of people in New Jersey can't wait to educate him.