Booking Booker? (Updated)

The one and only time I ever saw former Newark mayor and now U.S. Senator Cory Booker I was moderately impressed.  To be sure, like any decently skilled politician he was probably trimming his remarks for a center-right audience, but still he seems distinct from the leftism of New York’s new mayor.  (Booker supported charter schools, for example, while de Blasio is trying to kill them off.)

But the New York Times yesterday delivered a brutal smack down on Booker, all but calling him corrupt, or at least negligent:

Mr. Booker is a splendid retailer of his narrative, but after a while there is a Barnum & Bailey quality to it. His maiden speech in the Senate went on for more than 30 minutes and ranged from the founding fathers to slavery to his own story to, oh yes, unemployment benefits, which was his ostensible point.

He talks, tweets and travels relentlessly. But what’s left behind is troubling. His former deputy mayor was convicted of extortion in 2011. The year before that, Mr. Booker laid off police officers. Arrests plummeted and, like a dying fire given oxygen, homicides flared.

There’s lots more, including self-dealing and no-bid contracts by and to close associates.  (Yes, yes, typical of the Times to report all this after the election.)

Booker has to face the voters again this year.  Maybe New Jersey Republicans can find someone plausible to put on the ballot.  You never know what might be possible in the vent of a total Democratic Party meltdown in November, which I think is possible.

UPDATE: Bill Kristol emailed to point out the news that Jeff Bell is going to run for the GOP nomination to challenge Booker this fall.  This is terrific news.  Bell ran a close race against Bill Bradley back in 1978, after having defeated the liberal Republican Senator Clifford Case in the primary election that year.  Running on a Jack Kemp supply-side platform, Bell might well be regarded as the original Tea Partier.  Go Jeff!

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