With Booker not in contention, N.J. Senate president could challenge Christie in ’13

Newark Mayor Cory Booker has said he will not run for governor of New Jersey — making moot speculation about a potential Booker versus Christie showdown.  Instead, Booker’s setting his sights on the seat currently held by longtime U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg. 

Jonathan Jaffe owns Jaffe Communications, a public realtions and political consulting firm in Newark.  He said Booker’s bid for the Senate in 2014 has implications for next year’s governor’s race, including the battle among Democrats to challenge Republican Gov. Chris Christie. 

State Sen. Barbara Buono has announced she will seek the Democrats’ nod to run against Christie.

“She’s a mother, a longtime member of the state Legislature, she’s a very important person in the state of New Jersey,” Jaffe said. “I think that she’s a very interesting contrast to the governor.”

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So what about state Senate President Steve Sweeney? 

Jaffe said he thinks it makes sense for Sweeney, D-Gloucester, to run.

“But I think the folks who are going to be on his campaign team are really going to have to draw some strong and stark differences between what the Senate President would do as opposed to what Christie would do,” he said. “Because Christie is known in New Jersey as a moderate politician, he’s phenomenal at drawing supporters in from both sides.”

Recent Public Policy Polling numbers show Christie in a strong position to win re-election.  The survey showed Christie leading a slew of potential Democratic challengers — including Booker who was the closest and yet trailed Christie 50 percent to 36 percent among New Jersey voters.

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