Skip to comments.SENATOR BOOKER’S TALES COULD MAKE HIM VULNERABLE
Posted on 04/16/2014 12:01:48 PM PDT by neverdem
Newark, April 10–New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (D) may be headed for a more difficult reelection campaign this fall than many political professionals seem to think. The reason: the mainstream press, which has been his biggest booster, is now beginning to question not only his veracity but his competence as Newark mayor, which recently took a hit from a report issued by the state comptroller.
When he announced his intention to seek a Senate seat, Booker was considered a shoo-in. But the Senate campaign turned out to be no coronation. Although polls in early August had Booker with a 35-point lead, he struggled to an 11-point win over former mayor and Americans for Prosperity state director Steve Lonegan, a noted conservative gadfly. Lonegan ran a pugnacious campaign, attacking Bookers stewardship of Newark directly while Booker put forth a lackluster effort noted more for the time he spent out of state fundraising than the time he spent in state campaigning.
The questions about T-Bone helped take some of the luster off Booker. More importantly, the T-Bone story exposed Bookers tendency toward exaggeration, bringing all aspects of his record into question, and not just from Republicans.
Last month, a New York Times reporter visited Newark to report on the aftermath of Bookers mayoralty, and concluded that Bookers tenure did not live up to his billing. Titled, Leaders Words Dont Tell the Real Story, the article excoriates Booker for cronyism, absenteeism, no-bid contracts, increasing homicides, and straight up corruption on his watch.
In late February, the New Jersey State Comptroller issued a report detailing allegations of official misconduct and embezzlement of public funds at the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corporation, a non-profit contracted by the city to manage its drinking water system, by people with close ties to Booker.
The report alleges former executive director Linda Watkins-Brashear a Booker campaign volunteer and donor padded her official salary, made more than $50,000 in unauthorized payments for no-show or menial jobs, awarded no-bid contracts to political fellow-travelers, and took a severance package of more than $200,000 in 2009 when she resigned her office even though she continued working at the corporation until 2013. Brashear then took another severance payout of more than $450,000.
The board counsel, Elnardo Webster Bookers former law partner and campaign treasurer helped make it all possible. The report alleges Webster approved the no-bid contracts in violation of the corporations by-laws, and routinely allowed the board to make decisions without a quorum of members present. For his services, Webster received more than a million dollars in legal fees over a four-year period.
Booker, as mayor, was chairman of the corporations board, which received over $10 million a year from the city. The comptrollers report says that the corporations board acted, free from any meaningful oversight, on Bookers watch. Booker defends his stewardship, claiming that he authorized the citys business administrator to attend board meetings in his place. But the report notes that Bookers business administrator resigned in 2010, and that Booker never appointed a replacement.
As far back as December 2012, the New York Times chronicled Bookers image-over-substance record as Newarks celebrity mayor. The article poked holes in famous Booker exploits, such as roving the streets with a snow shovel to clear residents driveways, rescuing a woman from a burning building and receiving burns to his hand, and living on food stamps for a week to better connect with many in his poverty-stricken city. In each case, the Times exposed the reality behind the legend: Newark had no snow removal contract and streets were not maintained; Booker had eliminated three fire companies to save money after failing to close a budget hole; and six years after taking office Newark was as poor as ever despite Bookers repeated promises to lift the city and its residents out of the grinding poverty that characterized it.
Taken together the exaggerations and the less-than-meets-the-eye record as mayor Bookers flaws add up to a serious weakness that could cost him a bigger political future. New Jersey Republicans will certainly look to capitalize on them in this years campaign. New Jersey is a deep-blue state. But Bookers underwhelming performance in the special election demonstrated that he could be vulnerable to a candidate who is willing to attack his record head on.
Four Republicans are vying for the chance to do just that. West Orange businessman Brian Goldberg, Freehold businessmen Rich Pezzullo, Ramapo College professor Murray Sabrin, and former Senate candidate Jeff Bell are seeking the nomination in the June primary. Human Events will have more on each of Bookers challengers in a forthcoming profile.
Still, it will be a difficult race for the eventual Republican nominee. Booker remains a media darling even if it is asking more questions about the man behind the persona. Bookers biggest hurdle may ultimately be his own carefully crafted image.
Mark Impomeni is a freelance conservative opinion writer and blogger living in New Jersey.
Quick scan of the article left me with the same impression of another guy from the midwest who ran for that state’s senate. Cannot recall the name, just that he had big ears which matched his ego and his pension for lying.
Pffft... this is New Jersey.
Oh boy it would be sweet if the democrats had to spend money in NJ to protect Booker. I’d like to see them spread as thin as possible!
This will damage Booker for sure... instead of winning by 35 pts, his margin of victory will drop all the way down to 30.
One could hope. The real question is will his replacement actually be any better. Or just sneakier with the corruption...
Does that mean Newark is as big a craphole as it was before he was mayor?
Wow—standards are low for the media when it comes to liberal politicians.
As an aside - there is lying, and padding a resume, then there is making up people named “T-Bone,” who the heck does stuff like that? So incredibly bizarre.
Isn’t Booker the one who’s best buds with Fatboy?
He’s a two-fer!
“Lonegan ran a pugnacious campaign, attacking Bookers stewardship of Newark directly while Booker put forth a lackluster effort noted more for the time he spent out of state fundraising than the time he spent in state campaigning.”
You’re right; when you cut through the spin, Booker won without even really campaigning. He is NJ’s Obama (though he has more experience than Obama), and oddly enough was viewed as the “white” candidate when he unseated Sharpe James (the previous king of Newark).
If ObamaCare and the economy in general can’t deliver these mid-terms to the Republicans, they may as well close up shop. NJ is in terrible shape economically, and the lies of Booker’s accomplishments in Newark (where most taxpayers would never verify them) won’t fly over the state as a whole.
I like the line - “noted conservative gadfly”.
In the real world Lonegan is a solid conservative and a thorn in the side of the proggs.
Thanks for the ping.
Exactly. The fact that Mendendez, who paid his pimp for trips to other countries so he could have sex with children, is still in office instead of in prison tells us everything we need to know about just how far this country has fallen.
Cory Booker is an even more talented liar than Barack Obama.
Let’s not forget Christy Creme COULD HAVE appointed the pubbie but
FATTY chose NOT to!!!
Booker has nothing to worry about.
This is the second mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking gay. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.