Poor Cory Booker. First Barack Obama tried to guide him away from the notion of running for governor against incumbent Chris Christie, as Obama’s hug with Christie had raised both of their poll numbers. Obama wants Booker to run for the Senate seat held by Democratic incumbent Frank Lautenberg.
But just as Booker announced he would seek the Senate seat, Harry Reid came out to sabotage the effort. Reid told Politico:
I always support incumbent senators. I would always support Lautenberg or anyone else that’s running for reelection. He’s (Booker) a very good man, he would be a good senator. Of course we have to work out a few issues, but he would be a wonderful senator and he’s a great man.
Reid later denied he was “dumping” on Lautenberg, who will be 90 years old in 2014 when he faces reelection:
That didn't sound too good to me. I always support incumbents and I always have and I wasn’t going to say anything bad about Cory Booker – he's a wonderful guy.
A Democrat who knows the score said:
Running for governor in New Jersey is expensive because you have to play in both the New York City and Philadelphia media markets. On top of that, Booker would have been going up against a well-known sitting governor. There’s plenty of time for Christie’s popularity to come down to earth, but it’s a much easier road for Booker to be the media-darling Senate candidate in a strongly Democratic state.
Another Democrat asserted continued that there were problems with Booker as governor:
That job is very powerful in some ways, but you’re stuck fighting with the legislature and dealing with all the suburbs that are angry about property taxes. For an aspirational politician like Booker, who very much has his eye on history and his place in it, making speeches on the ornate floor of the U.S. Senate is a whole lot more appealing.
Booker knows the score: tell Lautenberg to get out before the primary, so Reid can dance around what he said. And Obama will be sure to give Lautenberg a call.