His uncharacteristic bump-in-the-road is now firmly behind him, leaving Newark mayor Cory Booker to resume his role as the rising star within the Democratic Party who will look to unseat New Jersey Governor Chris Christie next year.
Booker most recently served as the co-chairman of the Democratic Party’s platform committee during last week’s convention in Charlotte.
He quickly made the most of his latest high-profile role, rallying the party faithful at various breakfast speeches throughout the week while also giving a prime-time address on that Tuesday night.
His coveted assignments were evidence enough that Booker is again firmly ensconced in the party’s good graces after criticizing the Obama campaign for attacking Mitt Romney’s private-equity background.
Forgiven for his mistake, Booker is now positioning himself well to run next year against New Jersey’s popular Governor in Christie.
“He’s warmly received and I think he is a bright star in the Democratic Party,” Obama confidant and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin told POLITICO. “Everyone has a stumble and he’s recovered well.”
Not everything went smoothly for Booker in Charlotte, however. He was caught in the midst of the platform flap that erupted following the Democratic document’s initial omission of the word God and its failure to initially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The language was quickly amended on the directive of President Barack Obama.
But clearly, Booker’s star is on the rise again, even as he tried to downplay his own individual role.
“I don’t think I’m a central spotlight, I think I’m a utility player,” he told POLITICO. “I’m doing what the Democratic Party asked me to do. I’m very happy to play a small role in a big convention with big ideas and an amazing president we’re going to reelect.”
But his supporters have taken Booker’s high-profile role at the convention as a signal in his increased interest in tackling Christie in 2013. Christie was the GOP convention keynote speaker in Tampa the previous week.
Delegates said literature that highlighted Booker and his accomplishments in Newark kept cropping up under the doors of their hotel rooms, adding that they received welcome bags that contained goods, like bread and coffee, produced in Booker’s city.
“There’s huge buzz this week around the New Jersey hotel about Mayor Booker,” said Bob Zuckerman, a delegate from Jersey City who is the executive director of a non-profit organization, in an interview last week. “The buzz is that he’s seriously considering challenging Christie. From my perspective, I couldn’t be happier. He’s by far our best chance to unseat the governor.”
Booker is recovering from a falling out with Obama forces after he slammed as “nauseating” attacks on Romney’s Bain Capital record earlier this year.
Booker continues to sidestep questions about his future, telling POLITICO, “I say to my delegates, let’s get the president elected and talk about the future then.”
But that’s not exactly his message in front of certain crowds.
“I hope this doesn’t get me in trouble back home,” he said Thursday in an address to the LGBT caucus meeting at the Charlotte Convention Center. “But I’m telling you right now, it’s not a matter of if we’re gonna win marriage equality in New Jersey. It’s a matter of when we’re going to win, and…I will be there on the day that bill is signed. I might even have a very good seat when it gets done.”