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U.S. Senator Cory Booker. Photo by Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe

Booker bill advances past committee

By Nikita Biryukov, October 22 2018 2:01 pm

Editor’s Note: This story was updated with comment from Sweeney at 4:46 p.m.

The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on Monday voted along party lines to move forward a bill to allow House and U.S. Senate candidates to simultaneously run for the presidency.

Though the bill does not name the Booker, it’s purpose is clear, as only one member of New Jersey’s congressional delegation has publicly mulled a run at the presidency in 2020, the same year that Booker’s Senate seat happens to be up for reelection.

Asked at a press conference later in the day why he was pushing the bill, Sweeney, who has said he supports Booker for president, avoided naming the U.S. senator by name.

“We want to make sure that if we have a candidate in the state of New Jersey that is looking at it and exploring it that they don’t be held back,” Sweeney said. “It’d be wonderful to have somebody from New Jersey run for President or be successful running for president.”

Every Republicans on the committee save Sen. Tony Bucco, who was absent, voted against the bill, but, as the minority on the committee and in both chambers of the legislature, they had little chance of stopping it from moving to a full vote before the State Senate.

As none of the senators testified, it’s not entirely clear why they voted against it the bill, but it’s likely an attempt to force Democrats to run a Senate candidate that is weaker than booker in 2020. Though, while competing for the seat against Booker isn’t a winning proposition for Republicans given the senator’s popularity in the state.

But it’s not as though Booker’s the only issue for Republicans in statewide congressional contests.

Even if Booker decides not to run for reelection and Democrats field another candidate, the seat likely isn’t at risk of falling into Republican hands as the last time the GOP won a U.S. Senate race in the state was 1972.

Existing state law did not explicitly prevent Booker from running for both offices, but it’s possible he could have faced lawsuits over simultaneous campaigns for Senate and the Presidency had the legislature not made its intent to allow one person to run for multiple federal offices at the same time abundantly clear.

The bill is quickly moving its way through the legislature, passing committee scarcely four days after it was first introduced. A copy of the bill was still not available online by the time the committee voted on the bill.

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