Expert: Booker’s PAC confirms sources’ buzz – that Booker leaning toward senate, not governor

The appearance this week of CoryPac – a federal political action committee aimed at raising money for Newark Mayor Cory

The appearance this week of CoryPac – a federal political action committee aimed at raising money for Newark Mayor Cory Booker – may indicate what sources have buzzed about for months, which is that the mayor is more likely to seek a U.S. Senate seat and not oppose Gov. Chris Christie for governor in 2013.

“The tell is the treasurer is from the state committee and that makes me wonder if a deal hasn’t been cut,” said Dr. Brigid Harrison, professor of political science at Montclair University.

“It’s a pretty clear indication he’s entertaining running for the Senate, if not leaning toward, otherwise why set up the PAC?”

Harrison said given the dynamics of Democratic Party politics, “and how these nominations tend to be doled out, this looks like he would be running for the Senate, and if I’m Pallone (U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone), and it’s clear Pallone wants to move, maybe this is a situation where Pallone has a chance to move up to governor.” 

Ever since Christie’s 2009 gubernatorial victory, sources close to Booker have downplayed suggestions that the Democratic Party star would take a run at the Republican. Not only are the men friends, but they share about 100 key fundraisers and are both firm backers of school vouchers. Newark, moreover, depends on Trenton for critical state funds. Whether on the two percent cap or schools reform, the mayor has repeatedly backed the governor.

Booker’s Newark Now PAC and his potential through a vast fundraising network enable him to go live statewide in a gubernatorial run – if he chooses, sources say.

But the persistent word from insiders close to the mayor is that his focus is not governor, mostly for the aforementioned reasons.

That – and his commitment to help with U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) – leaves political insiders chewing on Booker’s 2014 U.S. Senate prospects, which would put sitting U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) in the position of either fending off the mayor or yielding at age 90.

“Cory Booker is smart, he’s keeping his options open,” said a Lautenberg ally. 

A year ago, Pallone – that member of the congressional delegation with the biggest campaign warchest – told PolitickerNJ.com if ever he had the opportunity to run statewide he would prefer seeking a U.S. Senate seat instead of the governor’s office.

Other Democrats whose allies have indicated an interest in seeing them oppose Christie in 2013 include state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford), state Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen), state Sen. Dick Codey (D-Roseland), Assemblyman Lou Greenwald, and Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage.  Expert: Booker’s PAC confirms sources’ buzz – that Booker leaning toward senate, not governor