Booker: We want Amazon's 'HQ2' in Newark

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThis Tax Day, let's talk about why we need real tax reform The Hill's Coronavirus Report: California backtracks on reopening as cases soar nationwide; SoapBox CEO David Simnick says nimble firms can work around supply chain chokepoints to access supplies for sanitizers and hygienic materials In politics, as in baseball, it ain't over till it's over MORE (D-N.J.) this week offered up Newark as the new home for Amazon's second headquarters after the company pulled back from its plans to build offices in New York City.

Booker's comments set him at odds with other 2020 presidential hopefuls, including progressive Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersProgressive group launches M pro-Biden ad buy targeting young voters Trump attacks Biden clean energy plan while announcing environmental rollback Car on fire near Supreme Court MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenHow a progressive populist appears to have toppled Engel Battle brewing on coronavirus relief oversight Progressive Mondaire Jones wins NY primary to replace Nita Lowey MORE (D-Mass.), both of whom celebrated the cancellation as a win by grass-roots activists and local lawmakers.

"We want HQ2," Booker said, referring to the Amazon offices by their nickname. "We’ve sent that message out already." 

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The Democratic presidential candidate told Cheddar that while he "applauds" the local community in New York for raising issues specific to their neighborhood, Newark leaders have mobilized around bringing in Amazon.

"In Newark, we have a local grass-roots effort to try to bring Amazon there," Booker said. "We are a city that’s built for a significantly larger population, has indigenous infrastructure, has incredible assets … our local community leaders have decided that we would like to see Amazon come." 

An Amazon spokesperson when the company canceled the New York plans last week said that it would not be searching for a new site at this time. It still plans to build offices in Northern Virginia. 

Booker has faced some criticism from left, with progressives criticizing him as weak on corporations and Wall Street. 

Amazon's New York cancellation has provided another opportunity for Democratic presidential candidates to draw battle lines over where they stand on big tech corporations, a division that highlights the growing rift between business-friendly Democrats and the ascendant left wing.   

Sanders in his announcement video on Tuesday highlighted his battle with Amazon over the company's working conditions, staking out his position as a critic of large corporations. Sanders's months of Amazon criticism culminated with the company upping their minimum wage to $15 an hour, which Sanders claimed as a success. 

"The people of New York and America are increasingly concerned about the power of large multinational corporations and the billions in corporate welfare they receive," Sanders said in a statement after the New York HQ2 was canceled last week. "Our job is to end the race to the bottom where taxpayers in one city or state are forced to bid against each other for desperately needed jobs. This is what the rigged economy is all about."

Amazon said that it was pulling back from the New York plans because of the opposition it faced from local leaders. 

Other presidential candidates have also weighed in, including Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandBiden campaign announces second round of staff hires in Arizona Democrats seek to tie GOP candidates to Trump, DeVos Democratic lawmakers call for expanding, enshrining LGBTQ rights MORE (D-N.Y.), who criticized Amazon's search for "massive tax breaks to continue to have record profits." 

"The fact that [Amazon CEO] Jeff Bezos wanted our taxpayers to pay for his helicopter landing pad just shows how disingenuous he was from the beginning," Gillibrand said.