Born in Washington, D.C. on April 27, 1969, Cory Booker is currently the United States Senator from New Jersey. Booker was raised in Harrington Park, New Jersey, a mostly white town where his parents Cary and Carolyn Booker, former civil rights activists and pioneer black executives at IBM, settled down. He attended Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan. Following his graduation he enrolled at Stanford University in California where he earned a B.A. in political science as well an M.A. in sociology. Booker played varsity football at Stanford and was named to the 1991 All-Pacific Ten Academic Team. Booker was awarded a Rhodes scholarship, one of few student athletes to do so, and went on to study at The Queens College in Oxford, England where he garnered his third degree, Honors History in 1994.
Following his studies at Stanford and Oxford, Booker earned his J.D. from Yale Law School in Connecticut in 1997. While there he volunteered as a big brother and was active in the Black Law Students Association. Though Booker was raised in affluence in New Jersey, following his graduation from Yale he moved to Brick Towers, a crime-ridden public housing project in Newark’s Central Ward. He became a community organizer, urging his tenant neighbors to fight crime and demand improvements in the projects.
From Brick Towers Booker, at age 29, upset a longtime incumbent to win a seat on the Newark City Council in 1998. His term on the council proved controversial. He advocated school vouchers as part of a broad package of educational reform. He went on a 10 day hunger strike, pitching a tent in front of the Sunset Pines Housing Project to protest open-air drug dealing. However, Booker was unable to make sufficient change from his city council post as his initiatives were often outvoted eight to one.
In 2002, Booker ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Newark against four term incumbent Sharpe James and was defeated 53 percent to 47 percent. He immediately proclaimed his intentions to campaign for the post again. While he was out of office Booker founded Newark Now a nonprofit community service organization in 2003. He also became a partner in the West Orange Law Firm of Booker, Rabinowitz and served on the Board of Trustees of Stanford University and the Executive Committee at Yale Law School.
On May 9, 2006, Booker again ran for Mayor of Newark and defeated Ronald Rice, the former Deputy Mayor and state Senator. Rice criticized Booker for raising over 6 million dollars for the campaign, which Booker went on to win handily with 72 percent of the vote. The council elections also went favorably for Booker as all of the city council candidates who supported him were elected, giving him the power to implement the changes he, and they, had advocated during the campaign.
Even before taking office Booker sued the city to stop municipal land sales to political contributors of the former Mayor. Upon taking office he initiated a 100 day plan to reform the city. His proposals included monthly office hours with residents to discuss city problems, placing more police on Newark streets, and establishing background checks for city jobs. Those reforms angered many in the city. In June 2006 New Jersey investigators foiled an attempt by four gang leaders inside a New Jersey prison to assassinate the Mayor.
On December 20, 2012 Booker became a candidate for the United States Senate seat to succeed Senator Frank Lautenberg who had died in office on June 3, 2012. Booker won the Senate Democratic primary on August 13, 2013 and the general election against GOP candidate Steve Lonegan on October 16, 2013, garnering 55% of the vote. In doing so he became the first black Senator from New Jersey. Booker is expected to defend his seat in the regular Senate election in November 2014.
Booker, is single and is a vegetarian. He does not drink or smoke.
Cory Booker, The First 100 Days: Newark, 100 Day Plan Report (Newark: Newark Public Information Office, 2006); Kendra Field, Race, Identity, and Legitimacy in Context: Cory Booker v. Sharpe James (Cambridge, Mass.: John F. Kennedy School of Government, 2002); http://corybooker.com/; David Segal, "Urban Legend How Cory Booker Became Newark's Mayor: By Being Almost Too Good to Be True" The Washington Post, July 3, 2006; Kate Zernike, "Booker, Winning Rocky Senate Bid, Gets a Job to Fit his Profile," New York Times, October 16, 2013.
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