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Cory Booker officially launching campaign for N.J. State Senate

GLENN TOWNES Special to the AmNews | 6/13/2013, 1:51 p.m.
Cory Booker officially launching campaign for N.J. State Senate

In a move many expected, Brick City Mayor Cory Booker on Saturday morning officially announced that he would be running for the Senate seat held by long-time politico Frank Lautenberg, who passed away last week.

At a packed press conference in Newark, N.J., Booker said he had filed all of the necessary paperwork and documents to run for the Senate. The mayor was introduced by NBA great and former Sen. Bill Bradley.

On Thursday, Gov. Chris Christie appointed New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa as an interim senator to fill the vacant seat. He added that primaries would be held in August and a special election to elect a permanent replacement would occur in October.

The swift move by the crusty Christie sparked some outrage from state Democrats, who argued that the state hasn't elected a Republican senator in 40 years. Christie dismissed the criticism and said Chiesa will serve in the post for five months and will not run in the special election in October. He added that the election will fill the seat until January 2015 and the new senator will have to seek re-election in 2014.

At any rate, citing his many successes as head of Newark since 2006, Booker vowed to take his no-nonsense, direct approach to addressing and solving issues to the national stage in Washington. "Newark is coming together across sector, race, religion, generations and joining with phenomenal friends around the region and nation," he said. "I will continue to fight this fight as state senator."

Among other, less notable contenders for the coveted post include U.S. Reps. Rush Holt and Frank Pallone and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver. In an odd twist, former talk show host Geraldo Rivera, who had announced his intentions to run earlier this year, said he would not be joining the Senate race.

Some of the Booker administration's achievements include attracting the philanthropic endeavors of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who donated $100 million to improve Newark public schools; gun control and anti-crime legislation; and prisoner re-entry initiatives.

Some Newarkers and others are thrilled with Booker's bid for the Senate.

"I think he would make an excellent senator for New Jersey," said Joanne Leach of Plainsboro. "He is so intelligent and has a clear vision for the city and it's people."

Anne Mayo of Irvington said, "He has done a lot for Newark. I've lived in this area my entire life, and I have seen the growth and positive changes here."

However, some bloggers were less gracious when describing the gregarious mayor as a senator in Washington. One posted, "Newark is still a mess, and he has done absolutely nothing to fix it."