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Newark Mayor Cory Booker could enliven New Jersey governor's race

December 09, 2012|By Alana Semuels
  • Newark Mayor Cory Booker, left, is still mulling a run for New Jersey governor, despite current Gov. Chris Christie's popularity.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker, left, is still mulling a run for New Jersey governor,… (Kristen Mullen / The Citizens'…)

NEW YORK -- The 2012 presidential election is over, Ohio has certified its vote, even Rep. Allen West has conceded. So where’s a political junkie to turn his or her attention throughout the long, cold winter?

Perhaps New Jersey, a state known for its crooked politicians that was thrust into the spotlight after Superstorm Sandy, when Gov. Chris Christie showed up just about everywhere, prompting questions about his national political aspirations.

Christie is running for reelection in 2013, riding the highest popularity ratings a New Jersey governor has ever had. But the race may not be a blowout. Newark Mayor Cory Booker, known for rescuing neighbors from a burning fire, spending a week on food stamps and delivering Hot Pockets to his city during the superstorm, might just make the race a little more interesting.

In an appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday, Booker was asked by Bob Schieffer whether he intended to run against Christie next year.

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“I am absolutely considering running for governor, as well as giving other options some consideration,” Booker said. He said he would decide whether to run in the next two weeks to give the Democratic Party time to throw its support behind the best candidate.

Questions about Booker's aspirations for higher office seem to follow him wherever he goes, including after a fiery speech at the Democratic National Convention. He often speaks of his ability to bring more development and housing to economically depressed Newark, and laces his speech with inspirational (some would say cheesy) maxims, such as speaking of “heroes of light and energy” in his city and of being “a prisoner of hope.”

In Newark, he is a little more controversial. Last week, in a City Council meeting to replace an outgoing elected official, police had to resort to pepper spray to restrain angry citizens after Booker, in a procedural move, tried to fill the position with his own candidate.

Some City Council members have spoken out against Booker, although the city is known for its divisive political battles.

Even if he doesn’t decide to run against Christie, who seems nearly invincible with his 72% approval rating, Booker could still play big on the national stage. He has said he is considering running for Senate in 2014, when Frank R. Lautenberg, the Democratic senator from New Jersey, will be 90 years old.

Schieffer also asked Booker about his senatorial aspirations.

“Yeah, I am actually looking at that a lot as well,” Booker said. “I’m really thinking about both offices right now, and which one can I better serve on the issues I’m passionate about and the things that I feel driven to contribute.”

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