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DES MOINES — Sen. Cory Booker, the first African-American U.S. senator from New Jersey and a possible 2020 presidential contender, will be the keynote speaker for the Iowa Democratic Party’s fall fundraising gala on Oct. 6 in Des Moines, party officials announced on Saturday.

“Iowa Democrats are thrilled to welcome Senator Booker as we celebrate the hard work of our Democracy already done over the last year and kick off the last month of the 2018 election,” said Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price in welcoming Booker to the state that will kick off the 2020 presidential selection process with the first-in-the-nation precinct caucuses.

Joining Booker at the event will be 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Fred Hubbell and his running mate, state Sen. Rita Hart of Wheatland, and the party’s 2018 slate of candidates. Democrats hope the event will fire up their rank-and-file supporters as well as attract the attention of Iowa’s independents and disgruntled Republicans in the run up to the 2018 midterm elections in November.

Booker, 49, who previously served as the mayor of Newark from 2006 to 2013 before winning his U.S. Senate seat, called the upcoming election “the most important of my lifetime.”

“So much is at stake, from the future of healthcare, to whether huge tax breaks and benefits will keep flowing to those at the top at the expense of everyone else, and more,” Booker said in a statement. “I’ve been traveling all across the country this year to campaign for Democrats and discuss the urgency of this moment, and I’m excited to come to Iowa in October to support an incredible slate of inspiring candidates.”

In the Senate, Booker has opposed what Democrats called President Trump’s “damaging policies and blatant disregard for fundamental American values.” He also has championed policies intended to advance economic and equal justice in areas of criminal justice system reform, higher wages and environmental protection of clean air and water.

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“Senator Booker represents a future-driven vision for our party and our nation that has inspired millions,” Price said in announcing Booker’s Iowa appearance. “As we head in to the most grueling weeks of this cycle, we hope that his message will be the fuel Iowa Democrats need to put our candidates over the top in November.”

Booker drew the ire of Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee last week for releasing to the public “committee confidential" paperwork from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's work as a White House lawyer, despite the threat of a potential Senate ethics investigation.

The New Jersey Democrat -- who is considered to be a potential 2020 White House contender -- defended the move, arguing that the GOP process for confirming Kavanaugh "makes a mockery of Senate precedent" and the chamber's "duty of advice and consent" by cutting off scrutiny while rapidly advancing Kavanaugh's nomination through the Senate Judiciary Committee.

At one point in the committee proceedings, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said it was "irresponsible and dangerous" for a senator to decide to release classified information "because you happen to disagree with the classification decision," adding that “running for president is no excuse for violating the rules of the Senate.”

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