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Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver. Photo by Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe

Oliver: Booker, Biden spat a byproduct of politics

In wide field, candidates have to hit low to get an up, Lt. governor says

By Nikita Biryukov, July 25 2019 1:11 pm

Acting Gov. Sheila Oliver said she understood why former Vice President Biden and U.S. Senator Cory Booker were lobbing bombs at one another in their bids to secure the nomination to take on President Donald Trump next November.

“I think that we have 20 people trying to become the Democratic nominee. I think that it’s crunch time for all of those candidates, and unfortunately, in our country, you know how elections and campaigns work, and unfortunately, we live in a society where for you to get an up, you’ve got to hit low,” Oliver said. “So, I just interpret the back and forth between Senator  Booker and Vice President Biden and Senator Kamala Harris — it’s just all part of the turf and the environment in which they operate.”

On Wednesday, Biden pushed back on an attack leveled by Booker over a 1994 crime bill that the former helped push through Congress.

The vice president said that, during Booker’s tenure as mayor of Newark, the Justice Department had to step in to stop a racially-motivated stop and frisk policy that disproportionally targeted Black men.

“If you look at the mayor’s record in Newark … one of the provisions I wrote in the crime bill, patterns and practice of misbehavior, his police department was stopping and frisking people, mostly African American men,” Biden said Wednesday. “We took action against him – the Justice Department took action against him – held the police department accountable.”

Increasingly, candidates like Booker who are stuck in the middle of the wide Democratic field have taken aim at Biden, the race’s current frontrunner, in an effort to raise their support among the country’s Democrats.

But, while that may be a tried and true practice in politics, it’s not one that’s always followed.

The issue didn’t come up when Oliver, who represented Essex County in the legislature before joining Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration and served as an assistant Essex County administrator, ran against Booker in the 2013 special election for the Senate seat the latter now holds.

“Well, I have a different perspective,” Oliver said. “I don’t believe politics has to be done that way, but that’s the reality of how politics is.”

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