Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), who officially announced on February 1 that he is running for the Democratic nomination for US president in 2020, reached a critical milestone in the race to be America's head of state. Today Booker reported that his campaign has received 65,000 donations from individual donors, a key metric that qualifies him to join the first Democratic debate in June. Despite a slow start and somewhat low name recognition in a crowded primary field of 20, Booker is a rising contender who could seriously challenge President Donald Trump next year.

Booker was born to an upper-middle class family in Washington, D.C. and grew up in a suburb outside Newark, New Jersey. He attended Stanford University, where he played football and earned a Bachelor's and Master's degrees in political science and sociology. He studied history at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. He then attended Yale Law School, and he won a seat on the Newark Municipal Council after graduation. After a short stint on the council, he ran for mayor of Newark and lost in 2002. In 2006, he ran again and won. He served as a popular mayor until 2012, when he ran in a US Senate special election. Booker has served as a Senator since 2013 and won reelection in 2014. He plans to run again in 2020, if he does not win the presidential nomination.

Known as a moderate progressive, Booker has offered many policy proposals during his Senate tenure. The three main pillars of his campaign are the economy, drug policy, and criminal justice reform. He worked on the First Step Act with Trump and wants to go further to ban solitary confinement and help released prisoners find work. He favors the federal legalization of marijuana and an end to the war on drugs. Though his economic plank is still developing, Booker seems to support policy that tackles wealth inequality. He has a housing aid plan that would give low and middle class renters tax credits to defray costs. His baby bonds plan would save children in poor families up to $46,000 in Treasury bonds by age 18. And Booker wants to reform the tax code to make the wealthy and corporations pay more and let the middle class keep more income.

Booker is unique as a young black vegan candidate with some fresh ideas. But many challenges face him. The biggest is clearly articulating his policy vision closer to the general election. Another challenge is his rather moderate record and platform, which will probably be scrutinized by the progressive base. His last challenge is his supposed coziness with Wall Street, Silicon Valley, charter schools, and big pharma firms headquartered in his home state. However, Booker possesses good oratory skills and charisma, which should help on the debate stage.