The Internet's been buzzing lately with speculation that Newark Mayor Cory Booker will challenge Chris Christie in next year's governor's race or make a bid for a Senate seat opening in 2014. It would be prudent of Booker to hold his cards close, though. Given Christie's 72 percent approval rating and the many unknowns of the candidate pool for a 2014 Senate race, he'll need to plan his race carefully and angle his talking points appropriately. But instead, Booker just keeps dropping his cards all over the ground and kicking them around, sending political reporters scampering to pick them up and turn them into news.
Booker is making news all by himself this week. In an early evening broadcast with HuffPost Live, the Newark mayor wore a green fleece and red tie (very seasonal) in a conversation with host Marc Lamont Hill. Since Booker was mostly fielding questions about Chris Christie's job performance and how he would do things differently, we can't really blame Booker's mind for wandering towards the keep-quiet topic of his own political ambitions. "When I go out and campaign next year for myself as a gubernatorial candidate or for another gubernatorial candidate should I decide not to run," Booker said before apparently realized what just came out of his mouth, "when I talk to crowds or to individuals advocating for whoever that candidate is, I'm not gonna do it on anything but the issues." Hill caught that first bit, though and asked Booker what he meant by "next year when I run" -- not Booker's exact words but whatever -- the mayor set the record straight. "I appreciate that and that would make some hecka news if I made that decision, but I haven't come to a conclusion yet," Booker said.
It would be easy to let that slip go if the day before Booker hadn't used such strong words in discussing his campaign plans on CBS Face the Nation. Booker said on the air that a decision regarding whether or not to run has "got to be within the next two weeks." Not that you ought to speculate about where his mind is heading, though. "I am absolutely considering running for governor, as well as giving other options some consideration," Booker continued. "I am going to be focused on that for the next week to 10 days or so and really come up with a decision that answers my basic question … where do I believe I can make the best difference for the city I love, for the state I love and the nation I pledge my life to." As for the Senate seat, Booker said, "I am actually looking at that a lot as well."
In a way, Booker's stream-of-consciousness approach to these interviews could be really helpful. By floating the idea of making a run for governor or senator, the well loved, media-friendly politician gets to gauge everyone's reactions to each respective decision. This also means that folks like BuzzFeed's Ruby Cramer will talk to all the experts about Booker's chances at each respective office. Experts, by the way, say that the Senate seat is the sensible choice, since it gives him the greatest chance of winning. (Plus, when New Jersey's Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, retires in 2014 at the age of 90, the upper house could use a jolt of youth.) So maybe he's not even trying to keep his intentions secret.
But remember: We're talking about Cory Booker, here. You know, the action hero who saves women from burning buildings and simply slays the short form style to his 1.3 million followers on Twitter? Why doesn't he just run for both?