Cory Booker: New Jersey’s Next U.S. Senator?

Daniel Doherty

12/18/2012 2:00:00 PM - Daniel Doherty

It appears that Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D-NJ) -- who, you might recall, said during the last election cycle that Team Obama’s ruthless campaign tactics were “nauseating” -- will reportedly not challenge Governor Chris Christie in 2014, but instead will run for a seat in the U.S. Senate (via Politico):

Cory Booker likely won’t challenge New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in 2014 but instead launch a bid for a U.S. Senate seat, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Citing three sources familiar with the matter, the Journal said Booker is eying the seat currently held by longtime Sen. Frank Lautenberg, an 88-year-old Democrat. The Journal reports the Newark mayor has been in discussions about launching an exploratory committee this week, and a Booker political operative did not comment for the story.

Recent polls showed Christie, a Republican, would be the favorite among New Jersey voters in that historically Democratic state, though Booker would be the governor’s toughest competitor. A Rutgers-Eagleton Institute of Politics poll conducted last month gave Christie an easy win over Booker, 53 percent to 34 percent. But about 13 percent of respondents did not pick either candidate.

Booker has slammed Christie as “vulnerable” to any Democrat, in a CNN interview this month. “And I think as it should be, because there’s a lot of issues in the state he’s not falling in line with, from women’s issues, from environmental issues, from really going in balanced way,” Booker said.

Funny, Booker asserts that Christie is “vulnerable” to any Democrat in 2014, and yet he himself -- perhaps the most widely respected Democrat in New Jersey -- will not challenge him. Go figure. Meanwhile, Governor Christie isn’t just well-liked in the Garden State; he’s developed a national reputation:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tops the GOP 2016 presidential field in favorability ratings, according to a poll out Tuesday.

Christie has a 55 percent favorability rating among registered voters, followed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) with 46 percent and Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) with 45 percent, according to a national poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Christie is the only prospective candidate in the group who had a 50 percent approval among non-whites. Rubio came in second with 32 percent.

Even though concerned citizens were literally begging Governor Christie to run for president in 2012, he declined, citing inexperience and a desire to “finish the job in New Jersey.” Four years from now, however, those won’t be major issues. He is, it seems, slightly favored to win the 2016 Republican presidential nomination (that is, if he chooses to run) and his popularity with non-white voters (see above), is certainly not lost on those seeking to rebuild the GOP brand over the next four years.