If one drives through Seton Hall’s Main Gate, turns right and cruises on South Orange Avenue for a few blocks, one will enter the storied city of Newark. Continue driving and eventually you’ll come upon Newark’s Central Ward. One man living in this neighborhood recently announced his presidential run for the 2020 election. This man is Cory Booker.
At the start of Black History Month, the former mayor of Newark, N.J., entered the crowded and diverse Democratic primary field. Booker graduated from Yale Law School and currently holds office as a New Jersey senator. In his announcement speech, he addressed American’s belief that the country continues to fail “too many folks” and that they believe the “forces that are tearing us apart are stronger than those that bond us together,” as reported by NBC News.
Booker’s oratorical skills and charismatic energy attracts many students at Seton Hall. As of Feb. 19, there are 12 Democratic contenders in the race and with about a year until the first primaries, students are considering a myriad of options.
Senior diplomacy major Megan O’Malley, who is not registered for either political party, expressed her enthusiasm for the senator. Initially, she was wary of Booker’s decisions during his time as Newark’s mayor, however, she believes during his tenure in the Senate he has earned a reputation for voicing his constituents’ concerns and convinced her that he is a viable option.
“He is a captivating public speaker, which will certainly work to his advantage in his campaign,” O’Malley wrote in an email. “I do think that he has to be careful not to appear as if he is trying too hard by attempting to appeal to younger voters.”
Although O’Malley communicated a somewhat positive opinion of Booker, she expressed admiration for Julián Castro, the former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under the Obama Administration. Also, she enjoys watching women enter the race such as Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand.
“[Castro is] another incredibly charismatic candidate and knows how to reel in his audience,” O’Malley said. “He’s also relatable to a wide array of voters – especially Latinos and young voters. I also think he’s moderate enough to not scare away any moderate voters in the 2020 election.”
Stephen Hoffman, a history, political science and philosophy major and registered Democrat, also has a positive opinion of Booker. Hoffman explained in an email that although Booker is young and does not have as much experience as the other candidates, Hoffman believes Booker is well-spoken and revered among the Democratic establishment. Nevertheless, Hoffman fears that Booker may be entertaining a presidential bid too early in his political career.
“I think it might be too soon for him to run,” Hoffman said. “He may fall into a similar situation as Marco Rubio did last election, as he was a strong candidate based on the party but ultimately, he lacked the experience necessary for a general election. Booker has strong experience early in his career, but I think he needs more before being a top prospect.”
Sophomore education major and registered Republican Chris Coppola explained in an email that he is “indeed not a fan of Cory Booker,” but credited Booker for partial success during his time as Newark’s mayor.
“He may have been slightly successful as the mayor of Newark, but as Senator of N.J., he has been relatively irrelevant, and I do not see how New Jersey has improved under his leadership, or what he has done to help the state,” Coppola said.
As of now, Coppola plans to cast his vote for Donald Trump for 2020 as no other candidates seem like practical alternatives. Nevertheless, Coppola conveyed interest in a prospective Michael Bloomberg run, the former mayor of New York City.
“He did a fantastic job as mayor of NYC and he is a true independent,” Coppola said. “He has a lot of ideologies from both sides of the aisle that I can agree with. The economy of NYC improved when he was mayor, and homelessness was nothing compared to what it is now. I genuinely think he can improve the country.”
As a former intern at New Jersey senator Robert Menendez’s office, O’Malley developed a newfound respect for politicians and became more interested in politics.
“I think that seeing the ‘behind the scenes’ of American politics and how elected officials operate really made me have a new respect for those in government,” she said. “Also, it humanized them.”
Thomas Schwartz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org