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Who is Cory Booker? A bio of the Democratic presidential candidate

Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman June 20, 2019

Editor's note: This story is part of PolitiFact’s ongoing coverage of the 2020 campaign; these reports will be updated as the campaign continues. For more candidate profiles and fact-checking, go to

Cory Booker says that a key part of his story is that he doesn’t just talk about poverty; he’s lived surrounded by it. For eight years, he was a tenant in Brick Towers, a drug-filled apartment building in Newark, N.J.. The apartments have since been demolished, but Booker, now a U.S. Senator, still lives in the neighborhood.

The problems Booker has seen firsthand in poor and minority communities are reflected in his campaign messages and Senate career. He has called for more gun control, targeting the growth of the prison population and income inequality. Booker proposed giving families a government-run savings account, "baby bonds," that they could one day use to pay for college.

Booker was an original cosponsor of the First Step Act, which overhauls sentencing laws. (President Donald Trump signed it in December 2018.). The legislation included a priority of Booker’s: largely ending federal juvenile solitary confinement.

Critics say Booker is too cozy with the pharmaceutical industry, a key industry in his state, which donated to his past senate campaigns. Booker suspended donations from drug companies in 2017.

Booker was raised in Harrington Park, a white suburb of New Jersey. After graduating from Stanford, Oxford and Yale, at the age of 29, Booker was elected to the Newark City Council. His 2002 race for mayor was chronicled in the documentary "Street Fight." He lost, but bounced back to win four years later.

In 2013, Booker won a special election to the U.S. Senate to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Booker became the first African-American to represent New Jersey in the U.S. Senate. He was re-elected in 2014.

Booker’s persona is more hip than your average Washington D.C. politician. He has more than 4 million followers on Twitter, uses Instagram, is dating an actress, and had a cameo appearance on the TV show "Parks and Recreation."

Name: Cory Booker

Current occupation: U.S. Senator from New Jersey

Party: Democratic Party

Federal offices: Won special election to the U.S. Senate in October 2013 and then re-elected in 2014.

Key votes: Voted in favor of First Step Act, a criminal justice reform bill passed in 2018; voted against Brett Kavanaugh for the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018; voted in favor of SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (an opioid bill) in 2018; voted against the Trump tax bill; voted in favor of the Rounds-Collins amendment to protect Dreamers, immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, in 2018.

State and local offices: Served on the Municipal Council of Newark 1998-2002; Newark mayor 2006-2013

Private sector work: Staff attorney for Urban Justice Center while attending Yale

Military: None

Books authored: "United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good," 2016

Education: Stanford University, bachelor’s degree in political science, master’s in sociology; The Queen’s College at Oxford University, honors degree in U.S. history as a Rhodes Scholar; Yale Law School, J.D.

Birth date: April 27, 1969

Personal life: Girlfriend Rosario Dawson

Religion: Baptist

Top issues: Criminal justice, gun control, income inequality, environmental injustice, voting rights

Endorsements: New Jersey’s Congressional Democratic delegation; State legislators in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Major donors: More than half of his money comes from large individual contributions including the Paul Weiss law firm. Top industry donations are from lawyers, securities and real estate.

Miscellaneous: speaks Spanish, vegan, appeared in the TV show "Parks and Recreation" as himself in 2015

Other coverage: PolitiFact's Truth-O-Meter"Street Fight," a documentary about Booker’s 2002 mayoral-run, 2005; Politico Magazine, Is Cory Booker for real?, February 2019; Center for Public Integrity, 9 Things to Know About Cory Booker, Feb. 1, 2019, Daily Beast, "Cory Booker Rescues A Freezing Dog and Nine Other Things He Has Saved."

Campaign website:

This report will be updated as the campaign continues.

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Our Sources

Center for Responsive Politics, Cory Booker, Accessed May 10, 2019

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, Senate profile, Accessed May 10, 2019

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, Booker Announces New Bill Aimed at Combating Wealth Inequality, Oct. 22, 2018

New York Times, Evicted, Newark’s Mayor Finds Another Blighted Street, Nov. 20, 2006

US News and World Report, 10 things you didn’t know about Cory Booker, March 16, 2017

USA Today, These two 2020 presidential candidates have both appeared on cult classic 'Parks and Rec,' Feb. 1, 2019

Cory Booker presidential campaign, Who Has Endorsed Cory Booker for President? April 12, 2019


Sen. Cory Booker, Booker Statement on Senate Passage of Landmark Criminal Justice Reform Bill, Dec. 18, 2018


Center for Responsive Politics, Senate vote on prescription drug price legislation calls loyalties into question, Jan. 18, 2017


The Hill, Cory Booker puts 'pause' on fundraising from pharma companies, June 30, 2017


Project VoteSmart, Sen. Cory Booker, Accessed May 20, 2019


Washington Post, Cory Booker’s 2020 policy agenda: ‘Baby bonds,’ criminal justice reform, action on climate change, Feb. 1, 2019


PageSix, How Cory Booker met girlfriend Rosario Dawson, March 28, 2019


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Who is Cory Booker? A bio of the Democratic presidential candidate