New Jersey Democrats will choose their nominee for the late Frank Lautenberg’s Senate seat on Aug. 13. Their choice ought to be Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who is that rarest of species, a political bridge-builder.
Mr. Booker and his three opponents—Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and Congressmen Frank Pallone and Rush Holt—are all liberal Democrats who share similar values and priorities. But Mr. Booker stands out, not only because of his national prominence—although that certainly helps—but because he has shown that he can work with partisan opponents for the benefit of the common good.
Politically, Mr. Booker has little in common with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. But on the vital issue of education reform, the mayor and the governor have come together in a concerted effort to take on the teachers’ union and other special interests in Newark. Mr. Booker also supported Mr. Christie’s push to reform pensions and benefits packages for public employees before those out-of-kilter promises to retirees lead New Jersey the way of Detroit.
Mr. Booker won few friends among the Democratic Party’s traditional constituencies when he stood with Mr. Christie on these key issues. The old guard in Newark loathes him—and that, in its own way, is a powerful endorsement of Mr. Booker’s tenure as mayor.
If Mr. Booker goes on to win the general election in October, he could become a moderating force in a Senate that has become bitterly partisan and absolutely dysfunctional. As a spellbinding orator with a classic made-in-Jersey biography—grew up in Bergen County, football star at Stanford, Rhodes scholar, moved into the projects in Newark to work among the city’s most downtrodden residents, was smacked hard in an election so vicious it became a documentary called Street Fight and then persevered to win four years later—Mr. Booker will also present Capitol Hill and the nation with a fresh image of New Jersey, and that can only help the Garden State.
Mr. Booker is the right choice.