NCCU Graduation with Sen. Cory Booker
All politics may be local, but sometimes a national political figure weighs in on a race far from home. Well, not too far.
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey has connections to Durham. His dad went to N.C. Central University, and Booker has been the school’s commencement speaker.
Booker, a Democrat and possible 2020 presidential candidate, endorsed Democrat Zack Hawkins for the N.C. House District 31 race.
In heavily Democratic Durham, Hawkins is the frontrunner. Retiring N.C. Rep. H.M. “Mickey” Michaux decided he wanted Hawkins to succeed him, and Michaux’s early endorsement meant that Hawkins faced no challengers in the Democratic primary.
Booker tweeted his support for Hawkins on Thursday, the second day of early voting in North Carolina, calling Hawkins a friend.
“I met Zack when he was President of the N.C. Young Democrats in 2008 — he was a leader then and he’s going to be an incredible leader for North Carolina,” Booker wrote.
While Hawkins has not held office before, he has been active in the North Carolina Democrats for more than a decade, starting off working on the campaigns of U.S. Rep. David Price (D-4th District) of Chapel Hill.
Booker was the 2016 commencement speaker at NCCU, where his father, Cary Booker, graduated in 1962. Cary Booker was from Hendersonville, North Carolina.
Booker is considered one of the rising stars of the Democratic Party, The Washington Post reported last year, which said his likely presidential campaign would have “strong echoes of [President] Obama’s messaging.”
In his legislative race, Hawkins faces Libertarian Erik Raudsep and Republican Torian Webson.
Michaux said that once other Democrats saw his support of Hawkins before the primary, they “basically agreed” that Hawkins was the party’s candidate. Michaux said he and Hawkins feel the same about policy issues, and he likes Hawkins’ work in education and support of historically black colleges and universities.