Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D), who has been publicly debating whether he should challenge New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) next year, has decided not to do so. Instead, he intends to complete his second term as mayor, but would consider a run for the US Senate in 2014.
Does this mean he will launch a primary challenge to Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who will turn 88 years old before the next election? Booker remained silent on such a possibility, other than to make laudatory comments about the senator. Lautenberg has expressed a desire to run again but his age clearly makes him a retirement possibility.
Without the Democrats’ top choice in the governor’s race, it appears that Christie may be fortunate enough to draw a second-tier opponent. The only announced Democratic candidate is state Sen. Barbara Buono, but questions surround whether she can mount the type of excessively expensive campaign necessary to oust the first-term Republican governor.
A new Rutgers-Eagleton New Jersey electorate poll (Nov. 14-17; 1,108 registered New Jersey voters) provides Gov. Chris Christie (R) with some very good news. According to the sampling universe, his job approval stands a 67 percent favorable to 26 percent unfavorable. But the better news for Christie is his standing against all potential Democratic rivals.
When paired with state senator and former Gov. Richard Codey, Christie’s margin is 56-31 percent. Against Newark Mayor Corey Booker, the governor stands at 53-34 percent. The numbers are even better when isolated with lesser-known potential Democratic rivals. Matched up against opposing former party chairman Tom Byrne, Christie soars to a 58-22 percent advantage. His gap grows to 60-22 percent when paired with state Sen. Barbara Buono and 60-21 percent when the opponent is Assemblyman Lou Greenwald. None of these individuals is an announced gubernatorial candidate.
Quinnipiac University is scheduled to release its latest New Jersey poll later today, but already leaked that their Christie job approval ratio is a whopping 72:21. It’s hard for a New Jersey Republican to begin an election year in better position. Gov. Christie is eligible to seek a second term next year.