Norcross backs Newark Mayor Cory Booker for U.S. Senate seat

George Norcross (Phil Gregory/WHYY, file)

George Norcross (Phil Gregory/WHYY, file)

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, well known in North Jersey, is getting the endorsement of a South Jersey Democratic powerbroker in his bid to become New Jersey’s next U.S. senator.

George Norcross says there’s a simple reason he’s backing Booker.

“Because he’s going to win,” Norcross said. “And because ideologically Cory and I are much closer than many others. I think we need to put the best candidate forward and the candidate that’s going to win the election.”

Norcross calls Booker a fighter who is fiscally conservative and socially progressive.

“I called him a fighter because of the urban education reforms he’s been involved with, and he likewise has been involved in initiatives in the governing of Newark and had supported last year the bipartisan health and pension reforms in New Jersey,” Norcross said. “Hence, I term him a New Democrat.”

Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray says the endorsements by Democratic Party leaders might not be enough to guarantee Booker a primary victory.

“”It’s not clear that they’re going to spend any of their resources to help him win the nomination,” he said. “They’re all worried out the legislative races in November.”

Other Democrats who filed by the Monday deadline to be in the race include Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and U.S. Reps. Rush Holt and Frank Pallone.

Murray says getting the support of organized labor may be more important than party endorsements in turning out voter support for a Democratic candidate in the primary.

The only well-known Republican seeking the seat is Steve Lonegan who says he believes he can get enough support from conservative Democratic voters to win. In the GOP primary, he will face Somerset physician Alieta Eck.

Lonegan, the conservative former mayor of Bogota in North Jersey, said he’s confident he’ll be able to beat any Democratic candidate in the October election.

“I cannot wait to go head-to-head with any one of them, but especially Cory Booker,” Lonegan said. “I’d like to see Cory Booker as the candidate because I’d like to compare his record as a city mayor with mine as a small-town mayor and show him what fiscal responsibility is and a real commitment to our voters.”

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