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Booker says 2013 could be his "most productive" year as mayor.
He wants to finish off a 0 million budget deficit, introduce a truly balanced budget, and get a Moody's rating upgrade.
In the opening scenes of Street Fight, a documentary film that follows the 2002 campaign, Booker pokes his head into half-open doors and yells into dark windows. When residents alert their mayor to neighborhood trouble — a broken streetlight or dangerous pothole, a pit bull roaming the streets — the mayor's typical response on Twitter is, simply, "On it." Rarely does Booker reply directly to complaints — he retweets them, with his own response tacked on to the front of the message. In Newark, the mayor is on it — and the whole world knows it too. Senate last month — in its nascent stages, already high drama — Booker has been thrust into the curious moment in which his career, extending for the first time beyond the city limits, is catching up at last to the national persona he helped craft for himself.
Booker's crusade to lead his life and his mayorship in the public eye has no doubt launched him and his city into the spotlight. The decision to run for Senate in part precipitated what the mayor calls a period of "adjustment." Booker is a man who wants to control the narrative around his life and career — he writes his own tweets, picks fights with reporters over unfair stories, and has outlined his next career move so rigorously in his own mind that he'll sometimes talk as if he's already gotten the job, letting slip a line about what he "will do" when he is senator.
"That's making a measurable impact, and yet no one has written a story about it," says Booker.
THE POLITICAL MEDIA'S fascination with Booker as a national figure — and not city mayor — came to a head last year when speculation about his political ambitions became a favorite parlor game of the chattering class. media went wild over a potential intra-party feud between Booker and Frank Lautenberg, the 89-year-old senator whose seat Booker is "exploring." "I never thought I would have people asking me for quotes from places like The Hill and Roll Call," he says.
"That took 48 hours of our time," says Modia Butler, Booker's chief of staff.
But amidst mounting media scrutiny, Booker is still learning what it takes to keep running the show from his new spot on the national stage.