New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may not be quite so nationally popular right now, and he’ll likely have a job repairing his brand on the road to 2016 if/after he wins gubernatorial reelection, but everything that has grated against the conservative base has apparently totally worked for blue-leaning New Jersey. His state approval ratings and reelection forecasts are sky high, and slowly but surely, prospective Democratic candidates have decided that they’d rather not spend their time waging an uphill battle that just keeps getting steeper, via National Journal:

One by one, the slate of possible Democratic contenders have bowed out. Newark Mayor Cory Booker will pursue an already-Democratic Senate seat. Once popular former Gov. Richard Codey, thought to be one of his party’s best shots against Christie, said last week he’s not running for personal reasons – which include running his funeral home business. News came this week that Senate President Steve Sweeney will likely stick with a re-election bid to the state legislature rather than make a run for Christie’s job. And Rep. Bill Pascrell won’t be running for governor, either. …

The last man — or woman, rather — standing is state Sen. Barbara Buono, once considered an outsider who has locked up the backing of Pascrell and some powerful party chairmen. But while she now has the party’s de facto blessing, she still has quite the task ahead of her; a Quinnipiac poll released last week shows voters preferring Christie in a matchup against Buono, 63 to 22 percent. …

There’s a general expectation among Democrats that Christie’s approval ratings, thought to have received a post-Sandy bump, will even out. Privately, Democratic operatives admit Buono is the clear underdog but also don’t want to give Christie a pass. “It’d be foolish for Republicans to somehow think this race is in the bag,” says one Democratic operative with New Jersey ties. “Democrats in New Jersey and outside of New Jersey are pretty committed to beating Chris Christie.”

But that doesn’t mean that Democrats are ready to concede, and of course, I have to add in the universal disclaimer that anything could happen in the next nine months — state-specific events, highly effective campaigning from the Democrats, and even national-level political mood swings could easily have a mollifying effect on the 74 percent approval rating at which Quinnipiac most lately pegged Gov. Christie. The Democrats are at least saying that they’re ready to put their money where their mouth is and throw everything they’ve got at the race, but there may be better investments to make (like the much more even-keeled gubernatorial race shaping up in Virginia). I mean, with a well-monied war chest and ‘friends’ like these

…Mr. Zuckerberg, a co-founder of Facebook, and his wife will hold a fund-raiser for him next month at their home in Palo Alto, Calif.

The fund-raiser is another reminder of the hurdles Democrats face in attempting to defeat Mr. Christie, who faces re-election in November and is often mentioned as a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

Mr. Christie has raised more than $2 million for his re-election… Some Democrats have said they need to raise close to $50 million to beat him. The only declared Democratic challenger so far, State Senator Barbara Buono, has raised about $250,000.