Politics

What’s Cory Booker Doing Back in Alabama?

Democratic senator will be keynote speaker at the National Baptist Convention USA’s winter meeting

 Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., campaigned for Sen. Doug Jones in the closing days of the special Senate election in Alabama last year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Cory Booker will return to Alabama on Wednesday for the first time since campaigning for Sen. Doug Jones in the state’s Senate election last month.

The New Jersey Democrat is slated to the give the keynote address at the National Baptist Convention USA’s winter meeting in Mobile.

“We really appreciated him doing that and being part of a great victory in Alabama,” Rev. Cleveland McFarland Jr., pastor at St. Peter Missionary Baptist Church in Mobile, told AL.com.

McFarland said he is optimistic about Booker’s political future.

“We feel he’s a potential president or even vice president,” he said.

Booker was a prominent campaigner during the Senate race, helping to turn out African-American voters.

Matthew Hale, a professor at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, told AL.com it’s beneficial for Booker to speak to religious voters, often underserved by Democrats, who are traveling from all over the country for the convention in Mobile.

“That’s a good audience for him. The delegates to the convention come from all over the country, and they will likely return to their home pews with good things to say about Cory Booker,” Hale said.

Hale said Booker's rhetoric is often rooted in language from Christianity and his themes of “conspiracy of love” can “rival the best preachers in the country.”

Booker was one of only a few national politicians who campaigned for Jones last year, the other being Alabama’s lone Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell and former Vice President Joe Biden.

And with Alabama’s earlier primary, it could help his standing among the state’s Democrats should he choose to run for president in 2020.

“On each trip, he is making new friends who will be of great assistance to him before the [Alabama] presidential primary occurs on March 3, 2020,” said William Stewart, professor emeritus of political sciences at the University of Alabama.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.