Newark Mayor Cory Booker has officially announced his plans to run for U.S. Senate, entering the special election to fill the seat previously held by the late Frank Lautenberg.
"I am here because I believe that people who care can find solutions to even the most difficult problems," Booker said Saturday. "I am here today because I know who we are and what we are capable of doing together for New Jersey.”
Booker began raising money for a Senate run even before Lautenberg, who died Monday, announced retirement plans in February. He had raised $1.9 million by the end of the last reporting period in March.
"I am saddened by these circumstances because Senator Lautenberg did not finish his term," Booker said. "And I am frustrated that I had great plans to finish out my next about 390 days as mayor."
Booker, 44, has 1.4 million followers on Twitter, or five for every resident of the city where he's the mayor. He tweets frequently, answering questions about city services, posting about his workouts and, perhaps most often, trying to provide inspiration.
He's frequently gotten public attention, from staging a hunger strike to protest drug-dealing to rescuing a woman from a burning home last year. His life story is also captivating. He grew up in Harrington Park as the son of civil rights activists who were among the first black executives at IBM, went to Stanford, was a Rhodes Scholar, earned a law degree from Yale and took a job with the Urban Justice Center, which provides legal and other services to the vulnerable. He also moved to a public housing complex in Newark.
Booker started fundraising for a 2014 Senate campaign after announcing he would not run against Christie for governor, citing his desire to finish his term in Newark. The term expires in June 2014, meaning if he wins the Senate election he'll go back on his word.
Booker's critics in Newark see him as an ambitious interloper who spends too much of his time outside the city.
According to a Senate campaign filing made in May, Booker has brought in $1.3 million for 90 speeches he has given around the country since 2008. His campaign says he has donated the majority of that money to charities that serve Newark.
Booker's campaign has said that the networking he does ultimately helps the city.
In 2010, he was seated next to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at a dinner during a conference in Sun Valley, Idaho. Two months later, Zuckerberg announced a $100 million donation to improve education in Newark.