Representative Kenan Judge is no stranger to serving others. After graduating from high school, Judge spent 38 years working at Hy-Vee. He even met his wife at Hy-Vee, saying “I’m a big believer that you can get anything at Hy-Vee.”
Judge is now traveling around the state to endorse presidential candidate Cory Booker, while also serving in the Iowa Statehouse. He sat down with The Knoxville Journal-Express to discuss why he feels Booker is the best candidate to support in the upcoming presidential race.
A native of Albia, Judge grew up on his family’s farm, which he says gives him a sense of rural community in his heart. After retiring four years ago, Judge realized he was not yet ready to stop serving others.
“I thought, I still want to serve this state and give back to my community,” said Judge.
He decided to run for the Iowa legislature and was elected as the State Representative for House District 44 in the 2018 election. For the democrat, winning the election meant flipping the formerly republican district in his favor. Judge just completed his first year in the statehouse.
Choosing to endorse Cory Booker was not a decision that Judge took lightly. In fact, he even considered not endorsing any presidential candidates for a while. After studying the candidates and devoting lots of thought to the matter, Judge came to the conclusion that endorsing Cory Booker was the best choice.
“The more I got to meet Cory and see him,” said Judge, “he shares the same Iowa values that I share today.”
Those Iowa values that Judge refers to include a commitment to serving people, believing that everyone deserves a chance and uniting people together.
If there is one thing Judge wants to reiterate to voters about Cory Booker, it is that the presidential hopeful is a uniter. When picking a candidate to support, Judge said he looked for someone who could unite the country and put other people above their own ego to find common ground and make common sense solutions for the country.
“He’s a uniter,” Judge says of Booker. “He can unite people and I think that’s a quality in a person that we need for president of the United States.”
Judge says Booker has made it his life’s mission to unite and be a leader in this country, and to make sure he puts other people above himself.
“I can tell you from the bottom of my heart, that’s who is he,” said Judge. “That’s why I said, ‘Hey, I’m with Cory.’ Not only am I going to endorse him, I’m going to help him try and win this election.”
The former mayor of a major New Jersey city, Booker has executive experience, which Judge feels is important when it comes to looking at leaders. Booker wants to place a focus on not only major metropolitan areas but also rural communities across the country.
According to Judge, Booker wants to focus on creating jobs in rural communities that will support families with a living wage and bolster rural economies. The candidate wants to address how to get rural communities in not just Iowa, but across the country, to have the same opportunities as those in the metropolitan areas.
“I can tell you he’s invested in rural communities,” said Judge. “I’ve talked to him personally about that, the importance of it.”
When talking about Booker’s stance on other issues, Judge reiterated that the candidate is a uniter. He said that Booker would bring people together and get them around the table to talk and have conversations about issues to make real change.
“I think that’s what we need in a leader today,” said Judge. “I think that is so important, whether we’re talking about gun control or education… we need to have a leader who can bring everybody together.”
As a New Jersey Senator, Judge says Booker has been a uniter within the Senate by having the ability to talk to people on both sides of the issues. He believes that Booker is able to have difficult conversations with people, which he says is critical in moving the country ahead.
“We need a president that can set the tone,” said Judge. “I believe in the bottom of my heart, that person is Cory Booker.”
If Booker were to be elected as president, Judge says that starting on day one, the people would look at him as a leader. Booker would be able to unite people, bring them together and get things done.
Booker would also be a job creator right from the start. According to Judge, creating jobs is foremost on the presidential hopeful’s mind. He wants to create good-paying jobs that will get the economy moving and working for everyone.
Judge says that in order to grow the economy, you have to invest money rather than spend it. That is why Booker has created his Baby Bonds Proposal, which will give $1,000 to every baby born in the United States. Then, depending on the family’s income, each baby can receive up to $2,000 a year into the account until they reach the age of 18.
Judge says this proposal would help small communities flourish. Justice is an important cause to Booker and is a theme that is under-pinning in his stance on many issues. He wants everyone to have the chance to receive a public education, regardless of where they live.
“Cory wants that opportunity for everybody, not just the affluent,” said Judge. “I think we have to think about that, everyone deserves that chance.”
Judge believes that Cory Booker has the ability to make real change in America, especially in regards to the economy, business in foreign countries, and agriculture. He says Booker would make sure farmers know they are supported and would bring them to the table for conversations, as well.
“Whether you’re from a real small town or a larger city in Des Moines, I think Cory is the type of leader that can bring and unite us, bring us back together and make us all better,” said Judge. “You’ll see it in his heart.”
Iowans should get used to seeing Cory Booker around the state in the upcoming months, especially as it gets closer to caucus season. He is making a stop at the Iowa State Fair and has several other visits to the state scheduled and in the works.
“Cory will be here, he’ll show up,” said Judge. “He’ll show up in areas of this state. He’s not just going to bounce around and be in the major metropolitan areas.”
Judge encourages constituents to go out and meet Booker when he visits, and to discuss issues important to Iowans with the candidate. Judge says that when you talk to Booker, he will listen.
“He knows how to take information in, assemble it and come out with a plan,” says Judge. “And that’s the definition of a leader.”
In preparation for the Iowa Caucuses, Tess Seger, Deputy Iowa Communications Director and Press Secretary for the Cory Booker Campaign in Iowa, says Iowans will be seeing more of Cory, joking that he will almost be living in the state.
Seger says that Booker knows the retail politics it will take to win the Iowa caucuses, which is why you will not see him yelling at other candidates on Twitter. According to Seger, Booker knows that meeting with Iowans and having conversations about the issues that matter most will help him win the caucuses.
“We know that our greatest strength is who Cory is,” said Seger. “So our greatest strategy is to let people see Cory, see his heart and get to know who he is.”
“Don’t count him out,” Judge added. “He’s going to be there at the end.”
Out of the wide field of Democratic candidates vying to represent the party in the upcoming election, Judge feels that Cory Booker is the one candidate who has the greatest chance of uniting America.
“I think it’s important that we come together and support something,” said Judge. “I stand with Cory and I am very vocal about it, that he can bring this country together and he can make real change.”