In the lead-up to next month’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and his political consultant Mark Matzen are meeting face-to-face with county chairs and making it known that Booker is weighing a run for governor and plans to decide by December, according to party sources.
Some Democrats see Booker as the only 2013 option against Republican Gov. Chris Christie.
By virtue of his fundraising ability, charisma and potential to transcend a fragmented state party, others see him, at the very least, as the preferred nominee.
“He’s the most viable candidate who comes to mind at this moment,” said Charlotte DeFilippo, chair of the Union County Democratic Committee.
DeFilippo likes her home county leader, Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage, as a candidate if Booker does not choose to challenge Christie.
So does DeFilippo’s fellow Union County power player, state Sen. Ray Lesniak, (D-20), who has repeatedly publicly stated his preference as Booker first and Bollwage second.
One party source said he didn’t necessarily read Booker’s accelerated appearances before the chairs as an indication that the Newark mayor is leaning toward taking on Christie.
“I don’t know what he ultimately plans to do,” said the source.
Another party source said as Democrats get closer to the national convention and Christie grabs headlines as the imminent keynoter at next week’s Republican confab in Tampa, national Democrats are alert to recruiting a counterpoint – someone who can present more than token opposition in next year’s gubernatorial contest.
UPDATE: Newark beat reporter David Giambusso of the Star-Ledger reports today that Booker will address the DNC to present the party's platform, making the mayor the only member of the New Jersey delegation (so far) to have a speaking role at the Democratic convention.
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"Christie’s method for coping with scandal has been more complicated. In January, the seemingly-local issue of lane closings on the George Washington Bridge, which created a massive traffic jam in the Hudson River town of Fort Lee, became one of national interest when it was revealed that one of Christie’s closest staffers had ordered them—for what looked like political retribution against a Democratic mayor. The scandal was quickly dubbed 'Bridgegate,' and unfortunately for Christie, it played into his reputation as a bully. Christie's response was to act unlike himself: humble." - Olivia Nuzzi- The Daily Beast
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