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Newark Mayor Cory Booker Emerges as Potential Player in 2014

by Jane Susskind, published
Credit: AP Photo/Mel Evans

Cory Booker Chris Christie

Emerging from the recent national attention surrounding the state of New Jersey comes a familiar face, Newark Mayor and Twitter superstar Cory Booker. Speculated by polling experts and journalists alike, his potential prospects moving forward include a possible bid for governor of New Jersey, placing him in position to challenge New Jersey favorite Chris Christie.

"Remember, we have a state election in 2013 and the only Democrat who shows any oomph against ... Christie, the hero of Hurricane Sandy, is Newark Mayor Cory Booker," says Quinnipiac poll director Maurice Carroll.

Despite the "oomph-factor," Booker trails Christie in Quinnipiac's poll by eighteen percentage points. He maintains a very strong lead, however, on the social network Twitter.

What sets Booker apart is his incredible aptitude at navigating the social media world, specifically Twitter. With almost 1.3 million followers, Booker is regarded as a super-hero by those in his community, and a social media standard to which politicians nationwide should embody.

“Social media is a powerfully democratizing force that’s given rise from everything from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street,” says the Twitter superstar. 

His secret? He actively responds to users and social mentions on the network, engaging with his constituents and those beyond his jurisdiction. His dedication to transparency and engagement can be seen by looking at his Twitter feed, which is flooded with personal responses, opinions, policy attitudes, and support. Some notable acts of transparency and readiness include the following tweets:

On a less political level, the Newark mayor routinely posts inspiration quotes or advice for his followers. A tweet that read, "Be kind to one another. The energy we extend will always reflect the spirit we possess," received 286 retweets and 97 favorites. Most politicians cannot even pay for that type of interaction.

During Hurricane Sandy, he was a valuable resource for news, updates, and support; responding to people in need of answers. He also personally took on responsibilities not typically required or expected of a mayor. Readily lending a helping hand, he invited users to message him directly for safety, medical, or roadside assistance.

His most recent Twitter triumph is his acceptance of a bet from a user, challenging him to live off of food stamps for a week. After engaging heavily with the user in a debate on the government's role in helping those living in poverty, Booker accepted the challenge, tweeting:

It might, however, be more strategic for the social media savvy politician to set his sights on a Senate seat, as suggested by a recent Public Policy Polling study. While New Jersey voters approve of current Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), New Jersey voters have voiced that they would prefer to see Booker as a candidate in 2014 over Lautenberg by a margin of fifty-nine to twenty-two.

If there's one thing that's certain, it's that we will surely be notified of his political future in 140 characters or less.

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