Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) on Saturday formally launched his bid for U.S. Senate in New Jersey after the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg.
Booker made his candidacy official after months of speculation that he was interested in the seat — and after he started raising money for it back in January.
The 44-year-old mayor emerged last year as something of a Democratic Party rock star, first making national headlines when he rescued neighbors from a fire. But he criticized the Obama campaign’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s private equity record, which reportedly prompted the White House to freeze him out, even after Booker walked the comments back.
Booker will likely face Democratic primary challengers, but is considered an early frontrunner in the race.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) set party primaries for Aug. 13 and a special general election for Oct. 16 to fill Lautenberg’s seat.