Bollwage ready to run if Booker doesn’t challenge Christie

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ELIZABETH – Mayor Chris Bollwage hosted today’s press conference aimed at federalizing gun laws in the wake of the Wisconsin and Aurora killings.

“I think he’d be a great candidate, a great governor,” said Bollwage’s longtime local ally, state Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-20), a classic kingmaker who helped package then Woodbridge Mayor James McGreevey into gubernatorial material.

The ceremonial optics of the event today placed Bollwage squarely in the center and gave him the most microphone time as the politician best positioned to riff on the finer points of his colleagues.

Democratic sources say Lesniak favors Newark Mayor Cory Booker as a gubernatorial candidate but few believe Booker would challenge Gov. Chris Christie in a head-to-head.

A Democratic mayor for two decades of this dockfront city, Bollwage appears ready to run in the event that Christie runs again.  

On key issues, including pension and benefits reform and the two percent cap, Bollwage has vociferously opposed the governor – unlike Booker.

“It’s real,” Lesniak told

At least one party insider disputes that Bollwage would run in the event Booker does not – or at all.

“Twenty of the 21 county chairs have never met Chris Bollwage,” said the insider, speaking on condition of anonymity, “and he has appeared nowhere outside of Elizabeth. I’d be surprised if he runs.”

Bollwage ready to run if Booker doesn’t challenge Christie