NEW JERSEY— President Barack Obama endorsed Newark Mayor Cory Booker on Wednesday for New Jersey’s open Senate seat.
The president said that, if elected, Booker would be “an important partner in our efforts to reduce gun violence, give every American a fair shot in a global economy, and make our country stronger.”
Booker hopes to succeed the late Frank Lautenberg, but he must first beat Republican Steve Lonegan in a special election set for Oct. 16.
The Newark mayor has an early advantage and is currently leading his challenger in the polls.
A Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll released this week shows Booker with a 16-point lead over Lonegan, the former mayor of Bogota, NJ.
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On Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie put his full weight behind Lonegan, The Star-Ledger reported.
Christie vowed to campaign for Lonegan every day until the election.
It should be a hotly contested battle, then, with Obama just as loudly extolling Booker's virtues.
"Cory Booker has dedicated his life to the work of building hope and opportunity in communities where too little of either existed," Obama said in a statement released to USA Today.
"Whether as a college student working in East Palo Alto or as mayor of New Jersey's largest city, Cory has time and again taken on tough challenges, fought for the middle class and those working to join it."
Booker, an Obama supporter, made headlines during the 2012 presidential campaign when he slammed the Obama campaign for an ad criticizing Republican Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital.
He later back tracked on the remark, and the two men have since reconciled their differences.
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