Some Republican insiders are calling Morris County Freeholder John Murphy one of the leading candidates for the 2009 gubernatorial nomination. Murphy, who finished third in the June primary, was perhaps the only second-tier candidate to break out of the pack, and party leaders were impressed by his ability to carry Morris County over the two leading candidates, Douglas Forrester and Bret Schundler. Murphy’s ’05 test run that enabled him to develop relationships with party leaders across the state — the last four elected Governors had run statewide before. Perhaps wisely, Murphy recognized that Forrester was unlikely to beat Corzine; his campaign team has been meeting monthly since the June primary to make plans for the ’09 campaign and are in constant telephone contact. “John has been working the ‘rubber chicken’ circuit since June and has a tireless work ethic that immediatly puts him at an advantage at this early stage,” a Murphy for Governor campaign staffer told PoliticsNJ.com. “John Murphy ran a solid and well-respected primary campaign and I think its only natural to think he would be on the shortest of lists in 2009 if he decided to make another run,” said Jeffrey Booker, the former Camden GOP Executive Director and a Forrester supporter in 2005. “His natural political skills are obvious and he would represent the GOP very well. His presence in a potential primary field would be greeted very warmly by the party’s rank and file.” The other Republicans most often mentioned by insiders for ’09: U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie, whose record of taking on corruption as federal prosecutor has won him considerable acclaim; and Assemblyman Bill Baroni, whose pro-labor, pro-life positions helped him win a landside re-election bid in a Democratic-leaning district. Schundler has refused to rule out a third gubernatorial bid.