Editor’s Note: This story was updated with further comment from Steinhardt at 12:16 p.m.
Republican State Chairman Doug Steinhardt wasn’t shocked to hear U.S. Sen. Cory Booker was ending his presidential bid Monday.
“It’s not surprising,” Steinhardt said. “Like I said, I sort of thought he already did, and we move on.”
Booker, the last non-white candidate in the race, announced he was ending his bid after failing to qualify for a second primary debate.
Long stuck in the middle of the pack, Booker’s position did not improve after the field winnowed, and New Jersey’s junior senator’s polling average continued to languish beneath 2%.
Once, his 1.8% polling average would have put him around eighth place. In a narrower field, it put him in 10th.
Booker is still expected to run in 2020. His Senate seat is up for a race this year, and he’s expected to seek a second full term in the chamber.
“Absentee Senator Cory Booker has left his state dead last in what we get back from Washington. If he expects to waltz back into New Jersey into open arms he is absolutely wrong,” Steinhardt said in a statement. “His agenda of socialized healthcare and out of control taxes will only fuel this state’s affordability crisis. If we want our children to be able to start their lives here and our parents to retire he we need to get rid of politicians like Cory Booker and Phil Murphy.”
Republicans haven’t won a Senate race in New Jersey since 1972. Bob Hugin last year put $36 million of his own money into his attempt to oust U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez but lost by 11.
To Steinhardt, the withdraw doesn’t mean much for President Donald Trump’s re-election chances.
“I think the U.S. economy’s booming under President Trump,” he said. “As you well know, he’s going to be in New Jersey in two weeks on the 28th. I look forward to being there with him, with Jeff Van Drew and with a packed house full of Republicans.”