Newly elected senator, Cory Booker, had a huge lead in polls months before Chris Christie scheduled an election for three weeks before election day. And he never looked like relinquishing that lead to conservative Tim Lonegan, even if the number did come back down to earth a bit. His 16 point lead shrunk to 11 (55%-44%), still a wide margin of victory for New Jersey's first black senator.
Booker already has a massive national following. His Twitter followers are six times the number of residents in Newark, NJ, where he previously presided as Mayor. His job now justifies his fame, says the New York Times, but how will that help him gain traction in the do-nothing Congress, where procedure takes precedent and the people who actually make decisions are members of AARP? It won't. "The Senate is an institution that rewards time," said Senator Rob Menendez. "And so it’s a little challenging, but not impossible. When I got here my freshman year, I drove the issue of getting relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax. … It was one of my major accomplishments when I ran for re-election."
In other words, Booker would be wise to keep his head down and focus on business he can handle and truly has a grasp of. "There are many lessons to be learned from what [Ted] Cruz has done," Ross K. Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers, said. "He became an irritant right away."
Though Booker will be able to throw weight around due to his national profile and close connection to President Obama, Booker will have to choose his battles carefully, much like Hillary Clinton did in her time as a senator. "She did it just right. She was very scrupulous in her choice of committees. She realized she had a lot to learn and while her credentials as a first lady gave her an enormous amount of ability, in some ways it needed to be restrained," said Baker. "She just set her mind to how the Senate worked."
Clinton would be a wise person to model for Booker, whose profile is likely to reach further heights given his new role. Though helping people and constant presence on Twitter are, in large part, what gained him so much traction in the New Jersey race before it started, the Senate is the big leagues. Helping cats out of trees and going on food stamps for a week isn't going to get him reelected anymore. He'll have to play his cards wisely. But he may not have to worry about reelection. He will run again in 2014, when the end of the term he is now serving ends, and unless he actually manages to break Congress any further, he is likely to win. After that, he might need another job to match his profile yet again.
Perhaps, Clinton's Vice President.
Booker's profile, youth, full campaign coffers after another election, and, by the time he's selected, three years of experience as a senator might qualify him for the job. When Clinton inevitably decides to run, she is a near shoo-in given the trends in national elections over the past few years. Though there is a strong conservative contingent in the United States — you may have noticed, they shutdown the government for 16 days — they exist in pockets. The GOP has won the popular vote just once since George H. W. Bush. Plus, it is hard to imagine a majority of women from both parties not turning out in big numbers for the first female president. With Booker, the ticket will then cover minorities and young people, in general political terms, vital demographics in the changing national picture. And if Booker follows Clinton's model in the Senate, and proves his political worth, he might just follow her into the White House.