Two updates on the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2013: U.S. Rep. Steven Rothman (D-Fair Lawn) says he will not be a candidate, and Newark Mayor Cory “Robin Hood” Booker wants people to stop asking about it. Rothman wants Washington, not Trenton – he would clearly seek a U.S. Senate seat if one becomes available, and broadly hinted that another federal post could be an option. Booker, fearful of raising expectations in his re-election campaign against ex-Judge Clifford Minor this May, does not want to spend four years being viewed as Christopher Christie’s opponent – especially as he seeks funds from a cash-strapped state government. Booker knows it will be nearly impossible to replicate his 75% win in 2006, and worries that he could face a similar situation to Michael Bloomberg, where an unimpressive margin of victory catches people by surprise.
Some Democrats think U.S. Rep. John Adler (D-Cherry Hill) could emerge as a serious gubernatorial candidate, if he gets re-elected in 2010 and 2012. Adler has raised plenty of money, but Christie won his congressional district by 21 percentage points last year, and the GOP has two potentially strong candidates in ex-NFL player Jon Runyan and retired Rear Admiral Moe Hill. If Adler keeps getting re-elected, he would have the advantage of a local base in Burlington and Ocean counties – two places that were critical to Christie’s 2009 win. Look for Adler to eschew talk of a statewide race until he gets through his next campaign.
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch) wants to go to the U.S. Senate, but could wind up running for governor if the Senate seat continues to be unavailable. Pallone has a huge war chest; more importantly, Democrats say his base in Monmouth and Ocean counties would make it hard for Christie to replicate his ’09 pluralities against Jon Corzine.
Another wildcard for 2013: former Gov. Richard Codey now stuck on the back bench of the State Senate. Codey was ousted as Senate President late last year, but still retains some residual popularity from his fourteen months as governor from 2004 to 2006. Look for Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-West Deptford), Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen), and Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo to get some early mentions as gubernatorial candidates.