Sen. Cory Booker’s “I am Spartacus” moment during the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings may have inspired mockery on the internet, but it got him noticed by New Hampshire Democrats with an eye on 2020.
“Cory Booker showed real leadership. He put his own Senate position on the line for what is right. That was pretty bold,” Jim Demers told NHJournal. Demers, a key Democratic player in New Hampshire politics who advised both the Obama ’08 and Clinton ’16 campaigns in the state, has previously said the New Jersey senator is at the top of his list for 2020. Booker’s performance on the Senate Judiciary Committee only deepened Demers’ support.
“Cory Booker’s leadership role demonstrated that elections have consequences. This confirmation process and the views of this nominee leads to one of those consequences and the outcome will last for a long time because it is a lifetime appointment that could reshape the interpretation of so many laws and positions in the country.”
Demers believes that Booker’s attempt to release classified documents in violation of Senate rules Thursday (the documents had already been cleared for release the night before), boosted his standing among New Hampshire primary voters who want to see more aggressive resistance to the Trump administration. Another influential Granite State Democrat–who declined to go on the record this early in the election cycle–agreed.
“In a crowded field, I think Booker and [CA Senator Kamala] Harris helped themselves. New Hampshire Democrats are looking for leaders who are hungry, who are bold, and are willing to take on Trump,” the activist said. This activist is actually leaning toward supporting Sen. Harris (“She’s a total bad ass!”) but defended Booker from accusations that he was engaged in mere posturing. “Even if it was posturing, it had a point. He’s smart and capable, and he’s doing more than just pounding the table.”
“Democrats have a tradition of civil disobedience and that’s what they were doing. It was an honorable thing to do.”
Not every Democrat agrees. Michael Avenatti—Stormy Daniels’ attorney and a potential 2020 candidate who recently appeared at a high-profile Democratic event in New Hampshire— suggested on Twitter that Booker and Harris’s efforts were empty gestures.
But progressive groups like The Women’s March were pleased, calling Booker’s performance “exactly what we expect of every member of the Senate.”
Another New Hampshire Democratic strategist who has worked on Granite State presidential races in the past told NHJournal “Democrats are incredibly frustrated by the process, but they do like what they’re seeing from Booker and Harris, their willingness to take risks while taking on Trump.”
Booker continued to release “committee classified” documents after the Kavanaugh hearings ended, sparking suggestions from Republican colleagues that he might face an inquiry by the Senate Ethics Committee.
In polls of New Hampshire voters, Booker’s name is near the top of the (long) list of possible 2020 contenders, though he’s still in single digits. In May, a Suffolk University poll put Booker in fourth place with 8 percent of the vote. A more recent UNH Granite State poll had Booker in fifth place (behind Massachusetts congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III) with 6 percent.
Still, he’s clearly pushing to raise his profile. On the Saturday after the Kavanaugh hearings, the Iowa Democratic Party announced Booker is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at a state party banquet in October. He has yet to visit the Granite State, but he has not ruled out a trip in the near future.