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O’Malley: Booker’s experience an asset for N.J.

TRENTON, N.J. — Cory Booker’s experience as mayor of New Jersey’s largest city would be a big asset in the U.S. Senate, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said Thursday as he campaigned for Booker throughout New Jersey.

O’Malley planned to up with the candidate after a debate Thursday night in Newark, the city Booker runs.

“If we’re ever going to get through this time, this time when ideology seems to trump common sense, then we have to send people to Washington that have been on the front lines,” O’Malley told a group of senior citizens at a Trenton housing complex. “Cory Booker has done one of the toughest jobs in public service in America. He has been the mayor of a big city that has big-city potential and big-city problems.”

Booker enjoys a seemingly insurmountable lead in a four-way Democratic primary set for Tuesday. The Democrats and two Republicans are vying to finish the term of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died in office in June at age 89. The general election is Oct. 16.

O’Malley, who himself is considering a 2016 presidential run, deflected questions about his own political aspirations. He was mayor of Baltimore before becoming governor and is finance chairman for the Democratic Governors Association.

He endorsed Booker in June. On Thursday, he was joined in Trenton by the city’s former mayor, Doug Palmer, and was scheduled to attend a barbecue in Paterson.

O’Malley, a frequent critic of Gov. Chris Christie, took a jab at Christie’s decision to call a special Senate election three weeks before his own re-election on Nov. 5, at a cost of about $12 million.

“You would almost think the people of New Jersey really, really love politics given the number of elections you all have in just one year,” O’Malley joked.

Palmer also criticized the election scheduling. Setting a primary in August “seems like it’s a trick in and of itself,” Palmer said, urging residents to vote despite the unfamiliar timeframe.