WASHINGTON (JTA) — A major pro-Israel political action committee endorsed Newark Mayor Cory Booker for the open New Jersey U.S. Senate seat.
NORPAC’s support in an email Thursday came just hours after Booker, a Democrat, signaled he would run in a special election in October to fill the seat vacated by Frank Lautenberg, the veteran Democratic lawmaker who died this week at 89.
The email announcing a June 16 fundraiser for Booker by the New Jersey-based PAC called Lautenberg “one of Israel’s and the Jewish community’s greatest friends and supporters.”
“We must ensure that this seat is filled by someone with the same passion and commitment to those critical issues,” said NORPAC, one of the top-earning pro-Israel PACs. “We believe we have found just that candidate — Newark Mayor Cory Booker.”
Shortly after the NORPAC announcement, reports emerged that Booker was circulating petitions to qualify for the seat. It was not clear from the announcement whether Booker would appear at the fundraiser.
New Jersey’s Republican governor, Chris Christie, on Thursday named the state’s attorney general, Jeffrey Chiesa, to fill the vacant seat until the October vote.
Booker, who has presided over a revival of the blighted city, has deep pro-Israel roots dating to his days at Oxford University, when he led a group for Jewish students and others called L’Chaim House. He has maintained a close friendship with the founder of L’Chaim, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who last year failed in a Republican bid for a seat in the U.S. Congress. Booker and Boteach frequently appear together at speaking events.