When Mayor Cory Booker signaled his intention in January 2013 to run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Frank Lautenberg, it set in motion a number of changes that cleared the way for Ras Baraka to become mayor. 

It also set the stage for Booker to make a run for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States.

Though he wasn’t from Newark, Booker moved to the city during his last year at Yale Law School and won a seat on the City Council in 1998, defeating four-term incumbent George Branch. 

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Rather than run for re-election, Booker in 2002 decided to take on incumbent Mayor Sharpe James. Though he lost to James, Booker rose to national prominence as a result of a documentary, “Street Fight,” which chronicled the mudslinging campaign.

Four years later, James opted not to run and Booker won easily against state Sen. Ron Rice. Booker won re-election in 2010, though by that point, his welcome in the South Ward had worn out. His opponent, former Essex County Prosecutor Clifford Minor, garnered more votes in the South Ward than Booker.

Lautenberg, who came out of retirement in 2002 to at the last minute to replace Sen. Robert Torricelli, was 88 in December 2012 and was facing questions about whether he would run for reelection in 2014. Booker did not wait for an answer.

In January 2013, the ambitious mayor indicated that he would run for the seat, angering members of Lautenberg’s family who would later endorse U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone for the seat. Lautenberg died in June and Booker won a Democratic primary against Pallone and former U.S. Rep. Rush Holt and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, who is now lieutenant governor. Booker went on to win a special election in October 2019 against Republican Steve Lonegan.

Booker announced his intention to run for the Democratic nomination for president on February 1, 2019. He remains in the race, though he is not considered one of the top-tier candidates at this point.

From the Series: Top Newark Stories of the Decade 

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