New Jersey’s Cory Booker will kickoff his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination this morning with a rally in his hometown of Newark.
Booker’s White House bid comes two decades after he began his political career as a candidate for city councilman in Newark’s Central Ward.
A Rhodes Scholar and former Urban Justice Center lawyer, Booker — who grew up in the Bergen County suburb of Harrington Park — moved to Newark during his final year at Yale Law School. In 1998, at age 29, he challenged Central Ward councilman George Branch, a four-term incumbent who was 40 years older.
Booker forced Branch into a runoff after trailing him by just 340 votes in the May non-partisan election. He won the runoff with 55% of the vote.
In 2002, Booker challenged four-term Newark mayor Sharpe James and held him to a 3,494-vote win, 53%-46%.
Booker never stopped running and James bowed out when his fifth term ended in 2002. Booker was elected mayor by 21,797 votes (72%-23%) against State Sen. Ronald Rice and two others.
He was re-elected four years later by a margin of 9,175 (59%-35%) against former Essex County Prosecutor Clifford Minor.
Following Frank Lautenberg’s death in June 2013, Booker became a candidate for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. He won a special August primary with 59%. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-Long Branch) finished second with 20%, followed by Rep. Rush Holt (D-Hopewell) with 17% and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange) with 4%.
In the October special general election, Booker defeated former Bogota mayor Steve Lonegan by 147,058 votes, 55%-44%.
He was re-elected in 2014 by a 56%-42% margin – 252,569 votes – against former Reagan speechwriter Jeff Bell.
Booker’s “Justice for All” tour will take him to Iowa, Georgia and Nevada over the next week.