Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) officially entered the 2020 presidential race on Friday, February 1st, the first day of Black History Month. Booker is the second African American to announce candidacy, following Senator Kamala Harris' (D-California) announcement on January 21st.
In his campaign video, Booker is seen walking around Newark, the community where he served as mayor for seven years before his 2013 election to the Senate. Under his tenure, the city saw its biggest period of economic growth since the 1960s, a reduction of crime rates, and the addition of affordable housing, green spaces and parks, educational opportunities, and city services, according to his website. Booker's video emphasizes the need for unity in this country, and for a leader who people are proud of rather than ashamed of. Booker stressed those needs on Twitter:
Here's a reading list of previous Pacific Standard stories that reflect some of Booker's campaign priorities: reforming criminal justice, addressing climate change, and changing the country's health-care system.
- Criminal justice reform has been a cornerstone of Booker's political career. In 2014, Booker and Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) proposed the REDEEM Act to increase protections for juvenile offenders and allow ex-offenders to more easily seal their records, which Lauren Kirchner wrote about for Pacific Standard.
- Booker was also an original co-sponsor of the First Step Act, a landmark criminal justice reform law passed in December of 2018, which Ashley Hackett covered for Pacific Standard. Booker fought for the inclusion of the Mercy Act to end solitary confinement of juveniles in federal supervision.
- In 2017, Booker introduced a bill that would have federally legalized marijuana and expunged marijuana convictions from criminal records. The bill reflected state-level efforts to allow expungement of marijuana convictions, such as California's Proposition 64, which Lee V. Gaines reported on for Pacific Standard in partnership with the Marshall Project.
- Booker sees climate change as a "pressing economic and national security crisis," and, as a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, he has shaped policies to protect clean air, water, and coastlines. He recently signed on to endorse the Green New Deal, which Pacific Standard's Francie Diep is currently reporting on.
- A supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders' (I-Vermont) Medicare for All plan, Booker stands behind the idea of eliminating private health care in favor of a single publicly run system. David M. Perry reported for Pacific Standard on what this type of change to the health-care system might mean.