Newark Mayor Cory Booker will not challenge New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in next year’s gubernatorial race and will instead run for U.S. Senate in 2014, political sources familiar with his decision tell NBC 4 New York.
Booker will seek the U.S. Senate seat held by fellow Democrat Frank Lautenberg when his term is up in 2014, political sources tell NBC 4 New York. Lautenberg, 88, is the oldest current senator. He first served in the U.S. Senate from 1982 to 2001 and has served since his re-election in 2003.
Booker’s decision not to challenge Christie comes as the Republican incumbent enjoys record-high approval ratings in polls taken since Sandy hit the Garden State.
So far, State Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex) was the first to throw her hat in the ring. State Sen. Richard Codey has come close to declaring but still has not stepped in. Senate president Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Camden) and U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6th Dist.) are all considered potential challengers who may now enter the race, with Booker bowing out.
Christie led Booker 50 percent to 36 percent among New Jersey voters, a Public Policy Polling survey released earlier this month showed. Other Democrats weighing a bid for governor trail Christie by more than 20 points each.
Booker has not yet tweeted his announcement, but he’s tweeting very Cory Booker-y things:
Life is about purpose not popularity, significance not celebrity. If u have no detractors, critics or adversaries ur probably not doing much
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) December 20, 2012
I was hoping the announcement would come via hostage video. The seat Booker would run for is occupied by 89-year-old Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who has not yet announced his plans. Booker’s entry into the race would be a bit of an unceremonious push for the Senate’s last remaining World War II veteran. I wonder if it might make Lautenberg more likely to run. In a PPP poll released in late November, Booker led Lautenberg in a hypothetical primary race 59-22 among Democrats.
Most say it’s Christie’s popularity that is keeping Booker from running for governor, but I say it’s because he couldn’t figure out how he’d personally clear every driveway in the state after a storm. If he’s in D.C., he has an excuse.
Exit question (Allahpundit™): Who foresaw this?