Shocking exactly no one, earlier this week Cory Booker announced his intention to run for president in 2020. The fact that Booker would run was never in doubt. What is in doubt is where he fits in this current crop of Democratic candidates.
In response to the electoral house cleaning of this past November, the myriad declared candidates for the democratic nomination have a noted progressive bent. There are position papers on medicare for all and green new deals being posted on candidate’s websites with a furious regularity.
Bucking the party’s usual affinity for centrists, this year’s gaggle of hopefuls are now being vetted on whether they are progressive enough. We have Donald Trump and his rank incompetence to thank for that. According to the latest spate of polling, the American people hate racist border walls, tax cuts for rich folks and having their health care taken away from them. That would seem to be a plus for the eventual democratic candidate.
In the party writ large, Booker’s progressive bona fides wouldn’t be in question. He’s long advocated for climate action and programs like baby bonds, but in the current environment his relationships with Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry will be an issue.
Booker will, however, have to answer for his past, and present, cozy relationship with Wall Street. He’s raised more campaign money from the financial sector than anyone but Mitch McConnell. In a campaign where a majority of candidates look set to eschew corporate dollars in favor of smaller donations, that’s a bad look.
Also at issue is his defense of the pharmaceutical industry and their stranglehold on the U.S. prescription drug market. He did them a big favor a while back by voting against a bill that would allow the import of cheaper prescription drugs from our neighbors. He offered some platitudes about drug safety and such but nobody with an ounce of sense thinks that’s why he defected from the party on the bill.
Booker is from New Jersey. The pharmaceutical industry is a major source of campaign money in New Jersey. Booker needs to come up with a better excuse or better yet, stop doing pharma’s dirty work for them.
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Cory Booker made it official | Sheneman cartoon