Cory Booker Cleared to Run for Senate, White House at Same Time

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Senator Cory Booker, a potential contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, will be able to seek re-election in New Jersey while running for the nation’s highest office at the same time under a bill signed by Governor Phil Murphy.

Booker, 49, hasn’t officially announced a bid for president, but he’s made some early moves to put himself in position to run. Last month, he delivered a speech at a high-profile Democratic Party event in Iowa, where the first presidential nomination contest -- the Iowa Caucuses -- traditionally is held. He’s also stopped in New Hampshire, site of the nation’s first primary, and two other states, South Carolina and Nevada, that are early on the nomination calendar.

The Iowa visit followed the bitter partisan fight over confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Booker, a Senate Judiciary Committee member, was sharply critical of Kavanaugh and released documents about the nominee in defiance of Republican leadership. He referred to it as his “Spartacus moment” -- a reference to the 1960 Kirk Douglas film about a slave revolt against the Roman Republic -- prompting speculation that he was casting himself as a leading Democratic voice against Republican President Donald Trump.

The state constitution prohibits nominations for more than one office in a single general election. A bill signed by Murphy on Thursday, though, added language stating that the rule doesn’t apply to candidates for Congress, or those running for president or vice president.

Booker spokesman Tom Pietrykoski referred questions about the legislation to Murphy’s office. Murphy spokesman Dan Bryan said the bill is a clarification of existing law. Booker would be up for re-election to his Senate seat in 2020.

Last week, a bomb addressed to Booker’s Camden office was intercepted by postal officials in Florida. He was among at least a dozen Democrats -- including Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton -- allegedly targeted with such devices. The suspect, Cesar Altieri Sayoc Jr., a Trump supporter from Florida, has been charged with five federal crimes.

New Jersey’s political workaround isn’t without precedent. Kentucky Republican leaders in 2015 voted to hold presidential caucuses two months before primary elections, allowing U.S . Senator Rand Paul to seek re-election and the presidential nomination. Kentucky law allows candidates’ names to appear on the same ballot just once.

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