Booker’s February announcement that he would launch a presidential campaign surprised exactly no one. The Bergen County native who grew up in the county’s Northern Valley Region and later served nearly a decade as mayor of Newark, quickly rose in prominence following his election to the U.S. Senate in 2013, replacing the late Frank Lautenberg.
With President Trump continuing to oppose funding for the Gateway program — which includes a multi-billion dollar rail tunnel under the Hudson River — and as the Republican-held Senate opposing the revocation of the $10,000 cap on state and local property tax deductions, Booker’s high profile gives his voice added power as an advocate in Washington.
But his work goes beyond advocacy. Booker was one of the key sponsors of legislation creating the federal opportunity zones, several of which are in Newark. The program, which provides tax breaks for the returns on investments in economically distressed areas, has created a good deal of excitement and activity in those areas.
Popular and charismatic, Booker has been credited with playing a hand in getting New Jersey’s largest city heading in a better direction after decades of economic decline. Gov. Phil Murphy, the state’s entire Democratic congressional delegation and the Democratic leaders in the state legislature have all endorsed Booker’s presidential bid.
Despite that home-state support, Booker remains something of a long shot for the nomination. His performance in early polls suggests that voters have a lukewarm reaction to him compared candidates such as Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Nonetheless, his candidacy puts New Jersey in the national spotlight once again, following former-Gov. Chris Christie’s failed presidential bid. And if Booker falls short in the primaries, he will likely show up on the eventual nominee’s short list for vice president.
More from the 2019 NJBIZ Power 100:
- No. 1: Phil Murphy
- No. 2: Stephen Sweeney and Craig Coughlin
- No. 3: Brian Gragnolati
- No. 5: George Norcross
- No. 6: Sheila Oliver
- No. 7: Kevin Conlin
- No. 8: Ras Baraka
- No. 9: Tim Sullivan
- No. 10: Andrew Kim, Tom Malinowski, Mikie Sherrill, Jeff Van Drew
- Power 100: A – F
- Power 100: G – M
- Power 100: N – Z