Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey Launches Presidential Campaign

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker entered the race for the Democratic presidential nomination on Friday, aiming to offer a message of unity in a growing field of Democrats opposing President Trump.

The African-American senator, who announced his candidacy in a flurry of appearances in traditional and social media, is the tenth Democrat to launch a presidential campaign and the fourth Senate Democrat to throw a hat in the ring, joining Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. Potential rivals such as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke also are considering entering the wide-open field.

While several Democrats are emphasizing their fights against Mr. Trump’s policies, Mr. Booker has stressed the need for unity among Americans who have become disillusioned with government and disconnected from their communities.

Mr. Booker warned that Democrats couldn’t win the 2020 election by “demonizing each other,” adding, “I’m not in this race to tear people down. I’m in this race to try to build our nation up.”

Presidential hopefuls are stepping out of the shadows, but their 2020 announcements are far from spontaneous. WSJ’s Shelby Holliday explains.

“I believe we have more in common than what divides us,” the senator told reporters outside his home in Newark, N.J., where he had served as mayor. He is expected to travel to the early-voting states of Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire in the coming weeks.

Mr. Booker had about $4 million in his Senate campaign account at the end of last year, money that can be used to seed his presidential bid.

San Francisco donor Steve Phillips, a friend and longtime fundraiser for Mr. Booker, started a super PAC late last year aimed at generating enthusiasm in the early primary states for a potential presidential bid. Mr. Booker’s spokesman has said the senator has nothing to do with that outside effort. Other 2020 candidates, including Sen. Warren, have sworn off super PACs.

Mr. Booker, 49 years old, has served in the Senate since 2013, when he won his seat in a special election following the death of Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg. He was considered to become Hillary Clinton’s running mate during the 2016 election and traveled extensively during last year’s midterm elections to help fellow Democrats.

Mr. Booker faces re-election to the Senate in 2020, but he won’t be pressured to choose one office over another. New Jersey state lawmakers approved a change in the law last year allowing a congressional candidate to appear on a ballot for president or vice president simultaneously.

The senator has been heavily involved in efforts to overhaul the nation’s criminal-justice system, working alongside Republicans such as Rand Paul of Kentucky. Mr. Booker was a co-sponsor of legislation signed into law by Mr. Trump in December that aimed to lower recidivism and reduce sentences for nonviolent offenders.

He has also advocated for a Medicare for All health-care system, the legalization of recreational marijuana, steps to curb the effects of climate change and legislation to allow the import of prescription drugs from Canada.



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