New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker is scheduled to headline Iowa Democrats’ marquee fall banquet next month, raising his national profile further on the heels of a spotlight role in confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Booker is the first of the Democrats’ better-known potential 2020 presidential candidates to make plans to visit the leadoff caucus state this year. Several lesser-known Democrats have already begun making introductions.
Booker struck a defiant tone this week as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee in declaring his willingness to face expulsion from the Senate by releasing an email from Kavanaugh about racial profiling written during his time as a top White House aide to President George W. Bush.
Calling it an act of “civil disobedience,” Booker said reading the email to the committee “is about the closest I’ll probably ever have in my life to an ‘I am Spartacus’ moment.” However, a committee lawyer later announced the material had been cleared for release that morning.
Still, Booker garnered some of the national spotlight, as well as the mockery of some of his Republican colleagues on the committee. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said “running for president is no excuse for violating the rules of the Senate.”
In planning to visit Iowa before the November midterms, Booker, elected in 2012, is inviting further national attention. Other Senate Democrats mentioned as 2020 prospects, such as New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, California’s Kamala Harris and Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren, have steered clear of the early presidential proving ground.
Likewise, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the independent who ran for the Democratic nomination in 2016, and former Vice President Joe Biden, who is also weighing a 2020 campaign, have been in touch with Iowa Democrats but have not yet made plans to visit.
While some of the better-known potential 2020 Democratic candidates have been in touch with Iowa Democrats quietly, Booker too had met with lawmakers from the state in Newark in July.