By David Cruz
On the day after the only televised debate of this primary election, Newark Mayor Cory Booker was smiling, warmed by the embrace of a statewide coalition of black clergy, announcing an endorsement that may not have attracted much press attention, but served to buttress Booker against last week’s attacks by the statewide NAACP that he had disrespected his community by avoiding their debate.
“The mayor has a long-standing history of supporting social organizations and the fact that there was a conflict in his schedule should not therefore position one to say that he was disrespectful to an organization,” said Booker’s pastor, Rev. David Jefferson. “I think it’s very clear that he stands for those values.”
Last night, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and Congressman Rush Holt led the attacks against Booker. Today, Oliver was at a union event in Atlantic City, while Holt had a low-key schedule with no public events. Congressman Frank Pallone was in Paterson, standing with the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s son, Josh, picking up on the anti-Booker theme.
“I’m sure he’s a very good guy,” said Lautenberg. “He’s very smart and intelligent and has the people’s interests at heart, but I think his motivations go beyond being a senator and I think it’s not important how many Twitter followers you have or living on food stamps or rescuing a dog. I think those are stunts and I don’t see substance connected with those stunts or performances.”
Booker has actually said nice things about his fellow Democrats. He called them extraordinary public servants today, but managed to get in a dig at Pallone and Holt, the two veteran federal lawmakers.
“I said very fairly if people like what they’re getting, they should stick with the two Congress people we have,” Booker repeated today, “but my belief is that we don’t need more Washington experience; we need a different experience in Washington.”
“I almost, resent, I guess the constant reference by Mayor Booker about how Congress can’t get anything done and how those in Congress have somehow failed,” replied Pallone. “I think the opposite is true. I think there are people in Congress, and I count myself among them, who actually have been able to get things done.”
One week to go until primary Election Day and the landscape is pretty much as it has been, Booker still holding a lead and three candidates struggling to make a dent in it, with precious days slipping away.