Mad about Christie’s Facebook fundraiser? Blame Cory Booker
January 29, 2013By Rob Tornoe for NewsWorks
This is commentary from political blogger and cartoonist Rob Tornoe.
Mad about Governor Chris Christie's Facebook fundraiser? Blame Cory Booker.
Democrats across the country celebrated in unison when Christie started a very-public bromance with President Obama in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. That fanfare, which caused his ratings to exceed 70 percent in New Jersey, continued through his dressing down of House Speaker John Boehner and the GOP-led house for delaying Sandy funds.
But one tech billionaire decides to throw a fundraiser for the brash republican, and the left goes into meltdown mode!
As first reported by Buzzfeed, Democrats throughout country are in a tizzy about Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg's decision to throw a private fundraiser at his home for Christie. The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) even – gasp – created a petition to stop Zuckerberg's fundraiser, complete with a thumbs-down graphic posted... you guessed it, on Facebook
The DGA quietly removed the petition without an explanation, although Matt Katz of the Philadelphia Inquirer noted many of the comments on the DGA's Facebook page have actually been pro-Christie, which might have been a cause of some embarrassment.
So what's the cause of all the consternation on the left? Well, up until Mr. Hoodie decided to throw his greenbacks Christie's way, Silicone Valley had overwhelmingly supported Democratic candidates with its fundraising might. Last election, 91 percent of contributions made by Apple employees, and 97 percent of Google employees, went President Obama's way.
It's easy to blame Zuckerberg for upsetting the delicate balance of Silicone Valley's political power, especially if you saw how he was portrayed in "The Social Network." However, if Democrats are looking for someone to blame for the upcoming transfer of wealth to Christie's campaign chest, look no further than Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
I know it's hard to for Democrats to point their fingers at our local hero, fresh from rescuing a poor dog from the cold. But remember that it was Booker who had the best chance at unseating Christie, and all it took was one look at polling data to cause him to run for the hills and challenge 89-year-old Sen. Frank Lautenberg instead. It was also Booker who sat next to Zuckerberg at a tech retreat in Idaho and convinced the Facebook billionaire about his sincere interest in education reform. That conversation led to $100 million being pledged by Zuckerberg in 2012 to help reform Newark's schools.
Any big reforms had to go through Christie, since the state has controlled Newark's public schools since 1995. The New York Times reported how Christie and Booker formed their own bromance during the process, and the three of them ended up announcing Zuckerberg's grant together on Oprah.
Had Booker run, would Zuckerberg have thrown his fundraising power behind Booker's campaign instead of backing Christie? After all, Zuckerberg's interest in Christie seems to be exclusively about education reform, and Booker's views on gay marriage seem to align better with the young billionaire. Facebook co-founder Chris Hedges is gay, and Zuckerberg and his wife attended Hedges' wedding to Sean Eldridge back in June.
Hedges appeared on ABC's "Face the Nation" on Sunday, and was unhappy with Zuckerberg's support of Christie, who vetoed a marriage equity bill that passed the New Jersey legislature last year.
"I mean, there are tens of thousands of couples in New Jersey that can't share their love and be recognized under the law because of that decision," Hedges said. "I'm not a single issue voter, and I think most people aren't either, but for me personally, it would raise serious concerns about supporting someone like him."
Unfortunately for Democrats, their pro-marriage equality candidate, State Senator Barbara Buono, hasn't been able to catch the media's attention or attract highly-visible fundraisers the way her opponent has. While Christie has already raised over $2 million, the best that Buono has been able to muster is a fundraiser next month with headliners Sen. Joseph Vitale and Essex County Freeholder Brendan Gill.
Buono has only raised $214,500 so far. After Hedges comments, maybe Buono should reach out to him for support. Otherwise, with Christie's ability to raise money, this will quickly become a campaign Democrats are forced to "unlike."
Rob Tornoe is a political cartoonist and a WHYY contributor. See more of his work at RobTornoe.com, and follow him on twitter @RobTornoe.