Cory Booker Was a Rising Star. Inside His Plan to Become the Next Big Thing, Again

TIME magazine, June 2019.

For years, Democratic insiders and voters alike have tabbed Booker as a promising presidential candidate. Booker, 50, entered the race with a compelling backstory, a reputation of woke-ness, and a message of love. He’s a United States senator, a former mayor, a charismatic speaker, a vegan; he even dates a famous actress, Rosario Dawson. But there’s no laboratory, no secret formula, no focus group that can guarantee any of this is enough anymore. In some ways the predictions that Booker would be a formidable contender for the nomination have come to seem like the kind of conventional wisdom that belongs in the era before the 2016 election, whose takeaway was that what you thought you knew wasn’t really how the world worked at all. And because of the way he has structured his campaign, with a “brick by brick” mentality encoded in its DNA, Booker’s bid is emerging as a test of whether the tried-and-true methods of presidential politics can prevail in modern America.