Democratic presidential candidate and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker held a rally outside of Volare Pizzeria Bar + Lounge on Thursday — the second candidate in as many weeks to visit Norman. And he may not be the last.
Following Booker’s speech, which focused on “reviving” the culture of unity and activism that Booker said has defined the United States in the past, Booker said people should not be surprised to see more Democrats visiting Oklahoma, and he would be returning to Oklahoma in the future.
“I'm going to tell people that you are going to see me here in the primary, you're going to see me here in the general election, because I think this ‘red state, blue state’ thing is getting kind of ridiculous,” Booker said. “We are one nation and if there's anything in this campaign that we need to start driving home, it’s that we are one people ... and we need to begin to see each other again.”
Booker said partisan divisions caused by labeling states as red or blue “drive a wedge” between people in the U.S., and that Oklahoma was “important for him” to take a step toward ending that division, though the state has not been won by a Democrat in a presidential election since 1964.
“Enough is enough. Oklahomans deserve to have a president who has their back and will fight for them. ... This is a vital state,” Booker said. “I don't care what party you're in, I don't care what your ethnicity, your race (is). We are all Americans, and I'm fighting for our country to make this nation about us.”
Taz Al-Michael, College Democrats of Oklahoma president, said that Beto O’Rourke and Booker were just the first of many Democratic candidates interested in visiting Oklahoma, including California Sen. Kamala Harris and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
“We’ve reached out to a couple of presidential candidates,” Al-Michael said. “From our own state we have Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and of course the big anticipation is when she’s going to come, but I can tell you we’re working on it.”
Al-Michael said there is enough political activism in Oklahoma to make ignoring the state a mistake for all candidates, not just Democrats.
“Historically, we have (been ignored),” Al-Michael said. “And in terms of these candidates, there's a reason why so many people come to Oklahoma right now, because they realize that we have voters that are going to be voting for them, we have folks that are going to be donating to them, we have folks that are going to be working for them.”
Oklahoma has made its mark nationally, Al-Michael said, with Oklahomans holding several important positions.
“Oklahoma has made it onto the map. ... I was former field organizer for Congresswoman Kendra Horn, the only Democratic woman to be elected to Congress (from Oklahoma,)” Al-Michael said. “The president of the Young Democrats of America is from Oklahoma ... also the chair of the national Young Democrats of America Black Caucus and the Native Caucus is from Oklahoma. (Oklahoma) can’t be ignored — we won’t be ignored.”
This story was updated at 9:31 p.m. Sept. 3 to clarify that Al-Michael was a field organizer with the Kendra Horn campaign.