By Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron
A number of prominent South Jersey Democrats turned out this afternoon at a catering hall in the district of Senate President Steve Sweeney. They were here to see Sweeney and Assembly majority leader Lou Greenwald announce their endorsement of Cory Booker.
To see the array of legislators on stage with Booker, it was clear South Jersey powerbroker George Norcross had given this meeting his blessing.
“Someone asked me earlier what does this means today. We have the leader from seven southern New Jersey counties here,” said Sweeney. “They’re here for one reason — we’re all here to support Cory Booker to be the next U.S. Senator for the state of New Jersey.”
Booker who was even farther south in Bridgeton earlier this afternoon faces three other Democrats in the August 13 special primary election.
“We have four excellent candidates for the U.S. Senate and I wish them all well, but no one comes close to Cory when it’s about getting things done,” said Sweeney.
Booker alluded to the machine-like organization that is now backing him.
“I’ve always looked at, in many ways, the kind of unanimity of strength in the south, the kind of leaders that I’ve worked with on issues in the past, the kind of individuals who know that politics is not an end unto itself,” he said.
And after sounding like it didn’t matter to him, he spoke critically about the governor’s decision to hold two general elections this fall, three weeks apart.
“I don’t think that that’s worth it to spend $24 million. We were just down as I said in Cumberland County,” Booker said. “Look at what Cumberland county could do with $24 million of investment and infrastructure. We could refund Planned Parenthood. So at a time when money is so short, I think that if New Jerseyans had a chance to vote on when they the want the election, to save $24 million, even though it cost three weeks, I think most of New Jersey, Republican and Democrat, would have done the fiscally austere thing and put the elections together. But we elected a governor who has that discretion and he made a choice and we’re going to abide by it.”
When asked if Gov. Christie’s decision was self-serving, Booker responded, “I have a hard enough time reading my mind at times, I’m not going to read the governor’s mind.”
To have the support of the South Jersey Democratic machine is almost enough, by itself, to win in a four-candidate primary. Given Booker’s support in other parts of the state, he is looking ever more formidable as the potential Democratic nominee.