Newark's new choice.

Author:Weigel, David
Position:Cory Booker - Interview

Sometimes there's an upside to losing an election. In 2002 Cory Booker, then 33 years old, narrowly lost the race for mayor of Newark, New Jersey, to Sharpe James, an entrenched incumbent who accused him of being a Republican puppet, an outsider, and "not really black." (Both candidates were Democrats.) Booker lost in part because he supported school choice and other free market policies.

Rather than cover up his beliefs the next time around, Booker spent four years building support, working with the community, and assembling a team of pro-school choice candidates to run for city council. On May 9, Booker and his slate won by a landslide. Now the Stanford grad and Rhodes Scholar is rolling up his sleeves to start the hard work of governing.

Assistant Editor David Weigel spoke with Booker in May, on the eve of his election.

Q: Why do you support school choice?

A: Poor families in Newark don't have the same options that middle-class or wealthy people have. This is a country that has two different systems--one for the privileged that gives the best opportunities, and another one that sticks kids in failed institutions.

We're just a mile away from South Orange, where people are so desperate for options for their kids that they give the suburban public schools sham addresses from other suburban towns. They have people who follow around minority children, forcibly remove...

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