By David Cruz
For a guy whose day yesterday began at 6:30 a.m. and ended well after midnight, Cory Booker showed no signs of fatigue as he greeted voters in Hoboken early this morning. Booker — who crushed the Democratic field — managed to break through to the usually head-down commuter, posing for picture after picture, as much a celebrity as a potential U.S. Senator.
With the race now down to two, voters can expect the issues to become a little more focused and the rhetoric to become a lot more sharp.
“This is a very clear choice for voters,” Booker said today. “We’ve got very different views on the world, everything from marriage equality to a woman’s right to choose, policy issues like health care.”
Last night Booker told supporters that if Steve Lonegan was to be a flamethrower that he would be a bridge builder.
“I cut my teeth here in Newark,” he told a cheering crowd outside the Prudential Center last night, “so I’m telling you right now in this campaign, if he demeans a woman’s equality, I will affirm it. If he seeks to regulate our gay brothers and sisters to second-class citizenship, I will elevate them, and everyone.”
With the primary now over, Booker’s fellow Democrats said they will get behind his candidacy. Booker said he spoke with Rush Holt and Frank Pallone, who told supporters that he was proud of the race they’d all run.
“I also said that I would be supporting [Booker] as the Democratic candidate in the general election because that’s very important,” Pallone told his supporters last night. “[Democrats] stick together and that’s what I always believed in, and I will continue to believe in that.”
In Princeton, Holt, who had the sharpest attacks on Booker, was more complimentary to Booker in his concession speech. “New Jersey’s been fortunate to have an outstanding field of candidates in this Democratic primary,” he said. “Mayor Cory Booker is a unique voice in the Democratic Party and enormously popular around the entire country.”
Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, whose county delivered almost 70 percent of the vote for Booker, said he was confident that the Newark mayor, known more for flowery rhetoric than fisticuffs, would be able to handle the sometimes strident Lonegan.
“There’s no question he could take it,” he said. “Listen, with all his rhetoric and the things he has to say and the craziness of his campaign, Cory has to stay on the issues and that’s what he’s going to do.”
When this special primary race began, there was talk that Booker might be in for a tougher fight, that his campaign was disorganized and that he would have a hard time putting together a statewide operation. Today, that seems like a long time ago indeed as the Booker bandwagon gets rolling.