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

Booker still a 2020 U.S. Senate candidate

New Jersey passed new law last October that allows him to run for both

By David Wildstein, February 01 2019 6:59 am

Cory Booker remains a candidate for re-election to the United States Senate in 2020.

The New Jersey approved a new law last October that would allow Booker to run for president while simultaneously seeking to keep his Senate seat.

Booker is considered the overwhelming favorite to retain his Senate seat in a state that has not elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since 1972.

So far, no Republican has entered the race to challenge Booker at home.  There continues to be speculation that Matt Rooney, a 33-year-old lawyer from Camden County who runs a popular conservative website, Save Jersey, will challenge Booker’s bid for a third term.

Some history to go along with Booker’s bid for the presidency while simultaneously seeking re-election to the United States Senate.

No major party presidential nominee has ever run for two offices simultaneously. Franklin Roosevelt, Alfred Landon, and Adlai Stevenson declined to seek re-election as governor of their respective states when they ran for president.  Bob Dole, whose Senate seat was not up for another two years, resigned his seat after he clinched the GOP presidential nomination.

Hedging bets is more common for vice presidential candidates.  Since 1960, five major party VP candidates have also run to keep their current office: Lyndon Johnson (1960), Lloyd Bentsen (1988), Joe Lieberman (2000), Joe Biden (2008), and Paul Ryan (2012).  Three others gave up their jobs after they were picked to be on the ticket: William Miller (1964), Geraldine Ferraro (1984) and Mike Pence (2012).  John Edwards (2004) had already announced he would not seek a second term to his North Carolina U.S. Senate seat when he sought the presidency.

The reality is that that if Booker captures the Democratic presidential nomination to run against Donald Trump next year, he would likely drop his bid for a third term in the Senate if for no other reason than to obviate stories about his dual office seeking.

In that situation, the New Jersey Democratic State Committee would meet select the new candidate.  That would work well for Democrats, who could avoid a raucous Senate primary in a state where the war between the factions is becoming increasingly forceful and replace it with a backroom, insider contest that would be over quickly.

If an incumbent House member were to move up to the Senate in that scenario, the local county committees in the individual congressional district would select the new candidate for Congress.  That helps party leaders avoid a House primary too.

This probably doesn’t need to be said: if Booker is at the top of the ticket as the Democratic presidential candidate, the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate would be the clear front runner in a state where Democrats will likely have a voter registration edge of more than a million.

If Booker’s presidential campaign – if there is one – turns out to be unsuccessful and he finds himself on the national ticket anyway as the Democratic nominee for vice president, there is little historical reason for him to drop his Senate re-election bid.

If Booker is elected vice president, Gov. Phil Murphy would appoint a new U.S. Senator.

That would trigger a 2021 special election for U.S. Senate.  While that election is not legally required to be on November 2, when New Jersey elects a governor, lt. governor and the entire legislature, many Democrats in the state are on record as opposing a separate election.

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