Newark Mayor Cory Booker has a massive lead in the race to replace the late New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg, according to a new poll from Rutgers-Eagleton. Booker is getting 55 percent of the vote to Rep. Frank Pallone's 9 percent and Rep. Rush Holt's 8 percent, as The Washington Post's Aaron Blake reports. Likewise, Quinnipiac University's poll shows Booker crushing the competition with similar numbers. Booker is well-known, earning far more Sunday show interviews than your typical mayor of a town of less than 300,000 people. Quinnipiac's poll shows only a quarter of voters don't know who Booker is, while more than 60 percent don't know his competition.
This helps explain why Republicans are so mad at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. By appointing Jeff Chiesa, a placeholder who won't run for Lautenberg's seat, and scheduling the election so soon, Christie denied the Republican candidate a chance to get a little bit more famous before the October 16 election, and the chance to ride the popular Christie's coattails.
Booker announced his candidacy on Saturday. In January, the mayor had made it clear he was running for Lautenberg's seat back in 2014 — before it Lautenberg said he would retire. It was not very polite. Since Lautenberg's death, Booker has played it a little cooler.
Oh, and in case you still don't know who Jeff Chiesa is, the clock is still ticking: