NYT Endorsement: Cory Booker for the U.S. Senate in New Jersey

New York Times

On Wednesday, New Jersey voters will go to the polls to choose a United States senator, replacing the late Frank Lautenberg. Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, a moderate Democrat, is running against an extremely conservative Republican, Steven Lonegan. Mr. Booker is far and away the better candidate to serve the needs of his entire state and to provide a national voice for the less fortunate across America.

Mr. Booker has a solid record of bringing investment to Newark, adding more housing and reducing corruption in city government. The job is, of course, unfinished, and some gains on crime made earlier in his two terms have stalled. But he has drawn national attention to Newark, bringing in money, jobs and development to help revive a city long defined by urban blight. He has also worked well with Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, a good sign that he would be the kind of open-minded, moderating voice Washington so desperately needs.

Mr. Lonegan, a former mayor of Bogota, N.J., says he wants to focus on economic issues. But his method, like that of one of his role models, Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican of Texas, could only add to the senseless partisanship that has now taken the economy to the brink of disaster. He would, for example, raise the debt ceiling only “in alignment with budget cuts.” He has a plan to try to close all regulatory agencies every 7 to 10 years and start each agency over from scratch.

Mr. Lonegan is out of the mainstream on many other issues. He once said he believed it was a mistake to create Social Security and Medicare; such obligations, he said, should instead have been left to charity. He has argued for eliminating the minimum wage. He opposes abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. He opposes same-sex marriage, and he is pushing to delay the Affordable Care Act. His past record on immigration became a national scandal when, in 2006, he tried to get McDonald’s to take down a billboard printed in Spanish. He later tried to have English declared the official language in his hometown.

Mr. Booker, a progressive on social issues, supports women’s rights, same-sex marriage, health care reform and gun control (the National Rifle Association is supporting his opponent). He says he would push for a higher minimum wage, environmental regulations, corporate tax reform and more assistance for college students.

We have worried that Mr. Booker has tended to be overly secretive about his finances. But, as this campaign grew more intense, he released tax returns for 15 years, gave more details about separation payments from a law firm where he worked before entering office and announced plans to end his association with a technology start-up he helped found. Greater openness and timely disclosure would help him avoid the pitfalls endemic to Washington.

Mr. Booker has lived and worked for people in some of Newark’s roughest neighborhoods. The Senate will pose different political challenges, where success as a legislator will depend less on his fame and personality than on focus and resourcefulness. He has the pragmatism and commitment to those in need that will make him a necessary and effective voice in Washington. We recommend Cory Booker for the United States Senate.

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