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The disbelief runs all the way up to city hall, where Booker is widely suspected of having his eye on the mayor's office. When Booker got elected, Mayor James told the local paper he worried about people "who try to create an empire and run for higher office." The day Booker moved into the motor home, a four-page anonymous screed was sent to hundreds of city leaders, stating that "Booker himself hates Newark...He is a mere publicity-stunt hound dog who is against everything and for nothing." Over the past three years, Booker's opponents have anonymously accused him of being white, gay, a tool of the Ku Klux Klan and a lover of Jews who lives in a mansion.
It's easy to see why some people would find Booker's record hard to believe: he played tight end for Stanford's football team. At Oxford, he was elected president of the Jewish L'Chaim society--even though he's a Baptist. He's a vegetarian, and says he has never drunk alcohol. And did we mention he once talked a suicidal fellow student out of jumping?
Here's the really annoying thing: Booker is thoroughly unaffected. In fact, he has a little-boy earnestness and optimism that are hard to resist. When he talks about cleaning up Newark, he can barely get the words out fast enough. At one point, when he realizes he's almost forgotten Mother's Day, he actually exclaims, "Jiminy Cricket!" The first night in the motor home, the generator and the engine die, leaving no water, no air conditioning and no way to drive out should there be any trouble. Booker collapses into bed--and gets up at 6:30 a.m. to go running.