Newark Mayor Cory Booker, D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson Combine Political Forces
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Call them Benty.
The hippest duo in Washington this week will be Newark Mayor Cory Booker and D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who are teaming up for a joint fundraiser -- an unusual party at a U Street restaurant that merges two young black politicians, two cities and a network of young professionals hoping to extend the wave of President Obama's election.
"They're the new hotness," said Elnardo Webster, Booker's longtime friend and political confidant. "What you're starting to see are these 30-somethings and 40-somethings motivated by Obama mobilize behind who they think is next."
The Wednesday night event at Local 16 -- hyped through Facebook, e-mails and word of mouth -- reflects the continued development of a generation of black politicians and supporters who are not limited by money, race or geography. Both mayors, who have raised more than $2 million each, are running for reelection in 2010.
The party is also another signal that the District is the place to be, thanks to the new residents in the White House. The buzz -- or, maybe more accurately, the hope -- is that Obama's caravan will head to U Street for the event.
"I have no confirmation that he is attending," said Eric Broyles, the party organizer. "This is about mayors. That's my focus."
When the circles of Washington's political elite talk about new black leadership, the focus is on mayors Booker and Fenty and newcomer Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star turned charter school reformer turned mayor of Sacramento last year. The ties among the three are real.
"We speak regularly," said Fenty (D), who added they share a focus on education reform.
They are in their late 30s to early 40s, and grew up as the country's first generation of black mayors waded through crime and poverty. Johnson, 43, is the first black mayor of Sacramento. Booker is Newark's third, and Fenty is the District's fifth.
They play on a national stage. Fenty traveled to Newark for the New Jersey primary last year to help Booker campaign for Obama. Recently, Fenty and Johnson were guests on "Larry King Live" to discuss Obama's address to Congress. And Booker and Johnson will participate in an education summit in Sacramento tomorrow.
"We all recognize for sure that we stand on the shoulders of those that were before us," said Fenty, 38. "It's our job to pick up the baton and run with it even further."
Johnson agreed: "I think what happened is our generation kind of watched our cities not reach their potential."