News (USA)

LGBT activists urge Newark mayor to challenge GOP governor Chris Christie

TRENTON, N.J. — LGBT activists are pledging support for Newark mayor Cory Booker should he decided to run for Governor of New Jersey, and the head of the state’s largest LGBT advocacy group promised to go “door-to-door” to raise money for his gubernatorial campaign.

Cory Booker
Photo: David Shankbone, via Wikimedia Commons

Steven Goldstein, the Executive Director of Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s largest LGBT advocacy organization, said he would cross both his own state and the nation campaigning for Booker, should the mayor decide to challenge incumbent Republican Governor Chris Christie.

Political analysts think that the popular mayor is the Democratic party’s best bet to beat Christie in next year’s gubernatorial race, and most agree the governor will run for re-election.

Goldstein is not the only person calling for support of the mayor.

Barbra Siperstein, New Jersey’s first transgender party delegate to the Democratic National Committee executive committee and a long-time activist in New Jersey, said she has received phone calls from LGBT organizations across the country who are eager to hold fundraisers for Booker.

The New Jersey Star-Ledger noted that support for Booker is “hardly surprising.”

Booker has made public acceptance of gays a central theme since coming to office in 2006. He has refused to officiate at weddings until same-sex couples have equal rights, raised the gay pride flag at Newark City Hall, and formed a commission to foster a “safe haven” for gay youths. Now they’re poised to return the favor.

“Like few others, Cory Booker manages to capture the imagination of the LGBT community from all over the country, and from all walks of life,” said Fred Sainz, Vice President for Communications at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

“I would suspect a wide diversity of Americans would support his campaign and help get him the resources he needs to win,” said Sainz.

Booker won support from the LGBT caucus at the Democratic National Convention this past fall regarding marriage equality when he told delegates, “It’s not a matter of if we’re going to win marriage equality in New Jersey, it’s a matter of when we’re going to win it.”

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“And I know in my heart of hearts, if God is willing, I will be there on that day that bill is signed. I might even have a very good seat when it gets done,” he said.

According to the Star-Ledger, Booker plans to keep supporters in suspense awhile longer.

Sources familiar with the mayor’s plans told the Star-Ledger he would decide by Christmas whether to make a run for Governor.

Democratic party strategists note that Christie handed the party a campaign issue by vetoing a same-sex marriage bill earlier this year, and that the LGBT community contributed millions of dollars to same-sex ballot measures nationally that produced historic victories in four states and helped re-elect President Barack Obama.

“Do I think Cory Booker is the only Democrat who can beat Gov. Christie? No,” said Goldstein. “Do I believe that he has a much better shot than anyone else? Absolutely.”

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