NJ Politics Digest: State’s Progressives Threaten Booker With Their Wrath

Cory Booker at the "Justice For All" Kickoff Tour in Newark, N.J. on April 13, 2019.

Progressive groups in New Jersey are threatening to make trouble for Sen. Cory Booker on the national campaign trail as he tries to win the Democratic presidential nomination. Jason Bergman

As Sen. Cory Booker campaigns nationally for the Democratic presidential nomination, he’s facing an insurrection from progressive groups in his home state who are upset he’s accepting support from Democrats they and Gov. Phil Murphy are feuding with.

As Politico reports, the groups want Booker to bow out of a $2,800-per-head fundraiser being hosted by Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo and Camden County Democratic political boss George Norcross. They are circulating a letter raising their concerns to progressive groups in Iowa in an attempt to pressure the candidate to back out.

DiVincenzo is being targeted because the Essex County Correctional Facility has a contract with the federal government to house undocumented immigrants. Norcross is in their crosshairs because he and his allies in the legislature have blocked Murphy from implementing the most progressive aspects of his agenda, including raising taxes on the state’s top earners.

Booker has spoken out on the presidential campaign trail against President Donald Trump’s policies for dealing with illegal immigration and the groups are frustrated that he is remaining silent when it comes to the Essex County contract.

Booker, however, needs the support and the money that entrenched Democratic leaders like DiVincenzo and Norcross can lend to his presidential effort, not to mention his continuing career in state politics. And, as Politico reports, political pundits believe that, despite what the local progressive groups threaten, Booker’s national efforts won’t be hurt too much by his dealings with the local Democratic power brokers.

The progressive efforts come as Murphy faces the embarrassing possibility of his fellow Democrats in the state Senate and Assembly overriding the his threatened vetoes of the legislature’s approval of a state budget that doesn’t include the tax hikes he has called for, as well as a bill extending the state’s controversial business tax incentive program that critics say was crafted to benefit Norcross and businesses and individuals he’s associated with. Getting Booker to back out of the fundraiser would embarrass Norcross in the midst of this fight.

Quote of the Day: “In the private sector, members of unions were getting hit hard and they became resentful that public-sector workers didn’t seem to be,” — Susan Schurman, a labor studies professor at Rutgers University, on reasons why voter sentiment has turned against the state’s public workers unions.

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NJ Politics Digest: State’s Progressives Threaten Booker With Their Wrath