TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Newark Mayor Cory Booker formally announced today he’s in the race to finish the U.S. Senate term of the late Frank Lautenberg. The 44-year-old Democrat made his candidacy official at a news conference Saturday in Newark, New Jersey’s largest city. He was joined by former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley, a former pro basketball player who for 18 years held the seat Booker is seeking.
Bradley, who endorsed Booker, called him “the right person for the right office at the right time.” Booker began raising money for a Senate run even before Lautenberg, who died Monday, announced retirement plans in February. He had raised $1.9 million by the end of the last reporting period in March.
Reps. Frank Pallone and Rush Holt are also planning to enter the Democratic primary. Booker is considered the early front-runner. Pallone, 61, had $3.7 million in his campaign coffers at the end of March and has deep union support. Holt, 64, a former research physicist, had $800,000 on hand.
Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, announced this week that there would be party primaries Aug. 13 and a special general election Oct. 16 The only Republican running so far is Steve Lonegan, a former Bogota mayor who runs the New Jersey office of Americans for Prosperity.
Booker, 44, has 1.4 million followers on Twitter — or five for every resident of the city where he’s the mayor. He tweets frequently, answering questions about city services, posting about his workouts and, perhaps most often, trying to provide inspiration.