By David Cruz
Newark Mayor Cory Booker stood alone at the podium as he waited for his opponents before last night’s debate, knowing full well that they were gunning for him. And, he was right.
“There goes Cory again,” mocked Rep. Rush Holt. “He says we have to come together in a new way of thinking, or something. You know, let’s get specific here. Our positions shouldn’t be top secret.”
Rep. Frank Pallone, the mayor’s most vocal critic at the debate, criticized his national travel schedule. “I don’t know how the mayor says he’s going to get things done because he’s been aligned with Wall Street and Bain Capital and all these special interest groups,” said Pallone.
Booker was ready for the attacks and said more than once that his opponents seemed more interested in talking about him. “I want to talk about you,” he said into the camera, adding, “Time and time again, Congress has failed to act. We have 40 years of experience between the two gentlemen and they haven’t gotten it done. It’s time we brought new energy and a change agent in Washington.”
But questions about Booker’s role in the web start-up Waywire, in which he holds a potential multimillion interest, were raised more than once, during and then after the debate.
“I am concerned about the relationships and the dots that are connected,” said Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver. “I am concerned that we read that Mark Zuckerberg was a contributor to the start-up company … and I don’t think the mayor has been open with people.”
“It seems many of the people involved are the same people that he’s been taking money from during the course of his campaign,” added Pallone, “so there’s no transparency here on the part of the mayor and it’s very disconcerting to me.”
Today, Booker passed on a chance to elaborate on his current role in Waywire, defending the company as a great idea and a good investment.
“We got a company off the ground and frankly, it was a business that many people found compelling,” said Booker. “This is not new news. This was last year; over a hundred stories have been written about it. We’ve been thoroughly asked questions about it, and we followed the disclosure laws not only of New Jersey, but of the United States Senate.”
Polls show Booker’s double-digit lead holding steady, despite the questions about Waywire, which Booker’s likely Republican opponent Steve Lonegan has now picked up as they head into the fall.
After clearing the debate hurdles, Booker plans to barnstorm the state all weekend and end up in Newark on Monday for a big pre-election rally on Monday, featuring actress Eva Longoria. It’s exactly that kind of star power that his opponents have come to criticize.