Granted, the strategic and public benefits of traditional retail campaigning and press-sustaining pseudo-events have been disputed. And such activities may seem especially quaint to a digital native such as Booker, whose famed accessibility via Twitter was recently revealed to have extended to a vegan stripper (besides countless clothes-loving carnivores). Moreover, Booker is a heavy favorite over a hard-line conservative in a liberal state.
Still, the race tightened while the celebrity mayor was away. A Quinnipiac University poll showed Booker's lead over Republican antitax crusader Steve Lonegan had shrunk to 12 percentage points. That's no toss-up, but it's more competitive than a few weeks ago, when polls put Booker ahead by two or three times that.
Booker's standing will deservedly suffer further deterioration if he keeps inviting the perception that he is avoiding hard questions - and not just about people named after cuts of meat or adult entertainers who shun them. More substantially, there is his role in Waywire, a tech start-up that allowed Booker's Silicon Valley backers to richly reward him with stock options.
Booker's campaign made the welcome announcement that he would divest from the company earlier this month. On the same day, he released tax returns showing nearly $700,000 in severance payments from his former law firm while he was mayor - and while city authorities were paying the firm millions.
All told, Booker has much to discuss with the people of New Jersey, in all their teeming, indisputable reality.