Feb. 1 (UPI) -- New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker announced Friday he's seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination for president.
Booker, 49, jumped into the race by emailing supporters with an announcement video.
NJ.com, the state's largest news website, called Booker one of the Democratic Party's most dynamic speakers with the strong ability to rally people to causes.
As mayor of Newark, Booker turned down a position in President Barack Obama's administration, backed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election and supported fellow New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez during his corruption trial and re-election bid.
Some criticize Booker as too cozy with Wall Street and Silicon Valley and say he only ran for the Senate to get to the White House. Booker's relentless questioning of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in September, though, won back some critics.
Booker was tagged as a moderate Democrat while serving on Newark's municipal council when he first entered politics, something that was used against him in his first run at mayor, a race he lost in 2002 to long-time African-American incumbent Sharpe James. That campaign turned nasty, with James accusing Booker of not being "black enough," an accusation that stung the son of two civil rights activists from North Carolina. The campaign became the subject of the Oscar-nominated documentary Street Fight.
Even after becoming mayor, Booker had more moderate leanings, supporting school vouchers and Bain Capital when the Obama campaign criticized Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for his connection with the hedge fund during the 2012 presidential campaign.
Since joining the Senate in 2013, Booker's record has become more liberal, showing support for affirmative action, same-sex marriage, a single-payer healthcare system and women's rights.
He reached across the aisle to work on criminal sentencing reform with Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul.
In October, Paul's wife, Kelley Paul, accused Booker of suggesting violent acts against her husband and other Republicans in the fight over Kavanaugh's nomination. Booker said his comments cited by Kelley Paul were taken out of context by conservative outlets.
President Donald Trump has targeted Booker, claiming he ran Newark into the ground and even revived a false report that Booker didn't live in the city at the time he was mayor. Booker is still a resident of Newark, and current mayor Ras Baraka credits Booker with the city's turnaround.
"This success is the result of the work of my administration, the collaboration of our stakeholders and residents, the momentum begun by Sen. Cory Booker when he was mayor and his continued effective work to deliver for Newark," Baraka said in a statement. "If Donald Trump thinks otherwise, he should come to Newark and see the amazing things happening here with his own eyes."
Cory signs paperwork declaring his candidacy for president, his mom Carolyn by his side. pic.twitter.com/2KUXn4nUfN- Matt Klapper (@mattklapper) February 1, 2019
Booker, who many has compared to Obama, is in his first full term as a senator, the first African-American to represent New Jersey in the chamber. Obama was in his first term in the Senate when he won the presidency in 2008.
Born in Washington, D.C., Booker grew up in suburban New Jersey. His father, Cary Alfred Booker, who died in 2013, was one of the first black executives at IBM. Cory Booker went to Stanford University on a football scholarship in 1986 after being named to the All-USA high school team by USA Today.
Booker was named senior class president at Stanford and was selected a Rhodes Scholar, studying a year at Oxford. He earned his law degree from Yale University in 1997.
In 2006, Booker won Newark's mayorship -- convincingly beating James' handed-picked successor, Ronald Rice. While rumors abounded that he might challenge then-Republican Gov. Chris Christie, he beat Steve Lonegan in a special election for the Senate in 2013 and then won a full-term in 2014, defeating Republican Jeff Bell.
Booker will be trying to become the first bachelor president since Grover Cleveland in 1886. While Cleveland married in his first term, James Buchanan, who was elected in 1857, was the last to stay unmarried throughout his term.
Booker's private life has been the subject of much gossip. In October, the New York Post's Page Six linked him to attorney and former Goldman Sachs employee Chanda Gibson, whom he has known since his first run for mayor in 2002.
Booker will have his work cut out for him a crowded field to win the Democratic nomination. The Rolling Stone Politics 2020 Democratic Primary Leaderboard on Jan. 15 ranked him No. 10 out of 27 announced and projected candidates.