President Obama endorsed Newark Mayor Cory Booker for New Jersey's open Senate seat Wednesday, saying if elected he would be "an important partner in our efforts to reduce gun violence, give every American a fair shot in a global economy, and make our country stronger."
The president's announcement, while not a surprise, provides another boost to Booker in the Democratic-leaning state. Booker is heavily favored to win next month's special election to fill the seat of the late-Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D), where he faces Republican nominee and former Bogota, N.J. mayor Steve Lonegan.
“Cory Booker has dedicated his life to the work of building hope and opportunity in communities where too little of either existed," Obama said in a statement. "Whether as a college student working in East Palo Alto or as mayor of New Jersey’s largest city, Cory has time and again taken on tough challenges, fought for the middle class and those working to join it, and forged coalitions that create progress -- and that's the spirit he'll carry with him to Washington."
Booker's campaign team is filled with strategists who worked on Obama’s reelection effort, including Joel Benenson, who served as Obama’s chief pollster last year.
Booker welcomed the president's endorsement, saying he was "humbled" by it.
“If elected this October, I will go to the Senate to advance our shared vision of a nation where opportunity is available to anyone willing to work for it, and to ensure we’re investing in the priorities that helped build America’s middle class," he said in a statement.
Lonegan--who on Tuesday grabbed the endorsement of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), his rival in the 2009 GOP gubernatorial primary--said in a statement Obama's endorsement was "no surprise."
"Booker is not only a strong and enthusiastic rubber stamp for the Obama Agenda, he has proposed a series of radical ideas even further to the left than anything President Obama has suggested," Lonegan said. "People in New Jersey are sick of Barack Obama's lies, his health care plan, his data collection and his inability to lead our nation back to economic prosperity. Cory Booker is too liberal for New Jersey."