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Cory Booker (born April 27th, 1969) is an American politician who has served as the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey since 2006. Online, he has gained a celebrity status for his spontaneous and open interaction with the people of Newark through his Twitter account.
Cory Booker established his personal website, CoryBooker.com, in late November 2002. As of January 2013, this website is used as a hub site for information about Booker’s work in Newark and has a section where city residents can submit stories of how Booker’s policies and initiatives have helped change their lives. The site also links to his official social media accounts including Twitter, question and answer site Quora, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr and Facebook, where he has more than 132,000 likes. Of these accounts, Booker is most active on Twitter, which he joined on August 11th, 2008.
On New Year’s Eve 2009 and during several snowstorms in February 2010, Booker picked up a shovel and went around Newark helping those who could not get out of their homes following the storms. However, his snow shoveling did not gain media attention until a blizzard on December 26th, 2010 which dropped more than 24 inches of snow on the city. During the storm, Booker’s Twitter feed turned into a crisis helpline, as he retweeted calls for help and posted responses noting that he was digging out people’s cars (shown below). His tweets were featured on Vanity Fair, The Wrap and the New York Daily News on December 28th, followed by a profile piece in TIME the next day. However, many Newark residents were not happy with the mayor’s efforts, noting the city’s poor planning as sections of the city were left unplowed for up to 48 hours.
On April 13th, 2012, Booker rushed in to a fire at his next-door neighbor’s home with members of his security team to help evacuate residents, going in a second time to rescue a woman from her second-story bedroom. Both Booker and the woman were taken to hospitals and treated for second-degree burns and smoke inhalation. Hours after the event, two single topic blogs were created on Tumblr, Super Cory Booker, featuring image macros, and Cory Booker Story, which used a Texts From Hillary inspired format, created two-pane images featuring a photo of the mayor looking at a mobile phone (shown below) On Twitter, the hashtag #CoryBookerStories began appearing featuring Chuck Norris Facts-style anecdotes about the mayor. It was used nearly 25000 times on April 13th.
Following October 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, Booker tweeted posts of support for those stranded and chronicled his own efforts including taking homeless people to safety, delivering supplies to shelters and checking up on people whose homes were damaged by fallen trees. Highlights from his Twitter feed were shared on Cnet and People in late October. On November 1st, three days after Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, Booker began inviting people who were without power into his home to charge their electronics. That day, approximately a dozen people came to Booker’s home, where provided food, DVDs and toys to entertain the younger visitors. On November 5th, Mashable compiled a series of the Mayor’s best tweets in the wake of the hurricane, highlighting his physical actions as well as the virtual advice he provided to residents.
There is someone at my house now (Eric). I’ve got space u can relax in, charge devices & even a working DVD player. Come by@my_serenelove— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) November 1, 2012
On November 19th, 2012, Twitter user @MWadeNC, a 39-year-old married woman from North Carolina, made a comment to Booker asking why children need school lunches provided to them if their families already have access to food stamps. Booker then challenged @MWadeNC to try to live on food stamps for a week or a month in New Jersey, which is known for its high cost of living. On December 3rd, Booker began the SNAP Challenge, named for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that offers these benefits. Booker alloted himself $33 per week for groceries, based on the average monthly food stamp benefit in New Jersey, $133.23 per person per month. He chronicled his journey via his LinkedIn blog and Instagram, where he shared photos of the meals he was eating. The challenge was featured on NPR, Gothamist and NJ.com, however, it is unclear whether or not @MWadeNC went through with the challenge. He was met with some criticism, as food stamps are supposed to be a supplemental and not a person’s only source of money for food. Booker offered a rebuttal on CNN (shown below), noting that many Americans unfortunately cannot survive without the SNAP program.
On January 24th, 2013, New York area journalist Toni Yates tweeted that she saw two dogs outside in 12 degrees Fahrenheit weather, including her news channel Eyewitness News and Cory Booker as hashtags in the post. Soon after, Booker and a police squad car responded to the scene, where the mayor took the one dog that was still outside, Cha Cha, into the police car to keep warm. The cops were able to track down the owner, who claimed he was unaware the dog had left the house.
Because of you that dog was rescued. Thank you for reaching out. Thank u for your kindness RT
<a href="https://twitter.com/toniyates7">toniyates7</a>: 2 dogs left outside, freezing.</p>— Cory Booker (CoryBooker) January 24, 2013
South By Southwest Interactive 2013
On March 10th, 2013, Booker held a 70-minute talk at South By Southwest Interactive about his online presence and activity on Twjtter and other social media platforms. During the talk, Booker also revealed that he is considering a run for a seat in the U.S. Senate, affirming the longtime rumors of his aspirations beyond city governance. Booker’s progressive opinions about the importance of social media as a tool for politicians to connect with their communities were praised by The Atlantic, NJ.com, the New York Times and TIME who asserted the mayor had “won” South By Southwest. Four days later, Booker tweeted a link to a fundraising event scheduled later that month in support of exploring a U.S. Senate run.
AMA on Reddit
On March 16th, 2013, the mayor announced he would be participating in a Ask Me Anything thread on Reddit the following day. His AMA thread accrued 6,588 upvotes, 2,013 points overall and 1,148 comments within 18 hours. Going a step further from his first AMA in July 2012, Booker answered five questions via video (shown below), which were subsequently shared on his Waywire page.
Over the course of four hours, Booker answered humorous questions including a Horse-Sized Duck query involving New Jersey governor Chris Christie (shown below, left) as well as more serious questions such as whether or not Newark would continue to improve if Booker moved to the Senate (shown below, right) and how his administration is handling the war on drugs in the city. When asked if he would ever consider running for President, Booker responded playfully, saying he would love to run for President of the New Jersey Star Trek Club, before noting that Congress needs stronger leaders more than the White House does right now. The next morning, highlights from the thread were shared on The Daily Dot, Philly.com and Mashable.
Cory Booker was born in Washington D.C. on April 27th, 1969 to Cary Alfred and Carolyn Rose (Jordan) Booker. He was raised in a religious household in Harrington Park, New Jersey and graduated from the Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan in 1986. The same year, he was named as a defensive back player in the USA Today All-USA high school football team. In 1991, Booker received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Stanford, followed by a Master of Arts in sociology from the school in 1992. During his schooling, he ran The Bridge, a student-run crisis hotline, and was elected senior class president. He went on to receive an honors U.S. history degree from the University of Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship in 1994 and a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School in 1997. While attending Yale, Booker ran free legal clinics for New Haven’s low-income residents and participated in a Big Brother program. Prior to being elected as Newark’s mayor, Booker served as a City Councilor from 1998 to 2002. Outside of his political career, Booker is a vegetarian, does not partake in alcohol and lives in Newark’s South Ward, which was noted for being a rough area of the city, with drug dealers and boarded-up houses, when he moved there in 2006.
Newark Online – Mayor Booker moves ‘up’ to third floor in South Ward
The Star Ledger –
Huffington Post – Cory Booker To Live On Food Stamps After Making Twitter Challenge
Reddit – I am Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, NJ, founder of #waywire, Inc., social media enthusiast -- AMA July 15th, 2012
Reddit – I am Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey and Co-founder of #waywire -- AMA March 17th, 2013
The Daily Dot – Cory Booker, the Internet’s favorite mayor, does an AMA