DENVER — Democratic New Jersey Senator Cory Booker blew through Denver this weekend to canvas with Senator Mark Udall on the opening day of Udall’s northeast Denver campaign office. Also attending the packed event were Colorado’s Senator Michael Bennet and prominent black leaders in the state including Rep. Angela Williams and Councilman Albus Brooks.
Booker, also up for re-election after just ten months in the Senate, was emphatic about his support for Udall against “the other Cory” Republican Congressman Cory Gardner, who’s running to unseat Colorado’s senior senator.
“I consider him a mentor senator to me,” Booker told The Colorado Independent, emphasizing Udall’s work ethic, attention to detail and bipartisanship, particularly in the face of natural disasters in Colorado.
“During the time I’ve been in the Senate Colorado has faced some really tough issues,” said Booker. “To watch the way this guy goes into action, fights for his state, and pulls people together on both sides of the aisle to deal with issues like flood and fire really was inspiring to me and example to me about how we should be working in the US Senate.”
Sen. Bennet said he wasn’t surprised to hear that Booker, whom he refers to as a rock star, looks up to Udall.
“Look everybody in the place looks up to Mark because he’s not there to horse around and he’ll listen to anybody’s idea, no matter where it comes from,” said Bennet.
The top issue for Booker, whose speech you can listen to below, was voter turnout. He challenged those present to work as hard as their senator to make sure that Democrats, who typically don’t turn out in big numbers for midterm elections, make it to the polls.
The Denverites who came out to canvas with Udall and Booker were serious about the issues too.
Olympia Fay, who lives in Stapleton, said she hasn’t been heavily involved in politics before but with kids in first grade education is becoming a major priority for her.
“I want to see all children have the same opportunity to succeed,” she said.
Mitchell Bitter, also from Stapleton, has been involved in politics for a while, starting with Obama’s campaign in 2012. Now he’s looking to help out wherever he can to see both Udall and congressional candidate Andrew Romanoff elected.
“The Supreme Court though is a huge issue,” said Bitter. “We’ve got a lot of elderly justices.”
Speaking to the crowd, Udall made sure to reference his votes for justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. He also emphasized his commitment to equal pay, raising the minimum wage, women’s reproductive health and restoring the voting rights act. In conclusion, Udall turned the focus to Ferguson where Michael Brown, a black, unarmed teenager, was recently shot and killed by police.
“Unarmed young black men are not criminals,” said Udall. “I don’t have the answer right here, but we can’t let this fade away.”
Outside the office a patrol car idled by a newly-installed road barricade cutting off 33rd Avenue where it intersects with Hudson Street.
Laura Avant has lived a few blocks from the intersection for more than 20 years. She stopped to ask the cop when the barricade will come down before heading to the Udall rally.
“This neighborhood is a lot better than this intersection would have you believe,” Avant said, noting that “everyone knows” the area is a prime spot for drug dealing but that the barricade does nothing but make it hard for residents to leave and enter their own neighborhood.
But Avant wasn’t just there to chat with police, she wanted to spread the word about the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP, a confidential international trade agreement President Obama is asking congress to “fast track.” That would mean congress would vote on the bill without public debate or the opportunity for amendments. Avant said she couldn’t understand why Colorado’s senators wouldn’t staunchly oppose such a breach of transparency in government, but she said she planned to ask them.
“I don’t know why Udall and Bennet won’t come out against it,” said Avant. “When are you going to come out against the fast track of the TPP? Are you for real?”
Udall’s senate Spokesman Mike Saccone said leadership has already pushed back on fast tracking the bill and that Udall will similarly fight any effort to fast track it.
“Transparency will be key, which is why once a proposal is put before Congress, Sen. Udall will post it publicly on his website and fight to ensure Colorado workers and businesses’ interests are protected in any final agreement,” said Saccone.
[Photo by Tessa Cheek]