chapter  3
18 Pages

Losing and Winning: Cory Booker’s Ascent to Newark’s Mayoralty

WithANDRA GILLESPIE

Th e year 2002 was a challenging one politically for Cory Booker. While his political and generational peers Artur Davis and Kwame Kilpatrick had recently scored stunning electoral victories in Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District and Detroit’s mayoralty, respectively, Booker suff ered a narrow but nationally publicized defeat in his quest to become mayor of Newark, New Jersey. Booker’s loss to then-sixteen-year incumbent Sharpe James was particularly stinging given the racial vitriol of the campaign. James attacked Booker’s racial authenticity, labeling Booker a “faggot White boy” and claiming that he had received campaign donations from Jews, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Taliban (Curry 2005). James went on to win the election by soundly beating Booker in all three of Newark’s predominately Black wards, including Booker’s own Central Ward.