(NEW YORK) — New Jersey has two of the most high-profile young politicians in the country — Gov. Chris Christie and Newark Mayor Cory Booker — and they may be on a collision course in 2013.
It is not certain that Booker will challenge Christie, who is seeking reelection as governor. But the decision could come at any time and the prospect has many political watchers anxiously waiting.
The Newark mayor and rising Democratic star appears to be thinking about it. He called Christie “vulnerable” on Monday.
“We think to any Democrat Christie is vulnerable, as it should be, because there’s a lot of issues in the state he’s not falling in line with, from women’s issues, environmental issues, from really going in a balanced way,” Booker told CNN.
But Booker has also noted he’s considering a run for U.S. Senate in 2014, saying Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation that he will make his decision “within the next two weeks or so because, especially in New Jersey, there’s a lot of good candidates for governor on the Democratic side.”
One thing that may be playing into Booker’s decision is Christie’s sky-high approval ratings since Hurricane Sandy ravaged New Jersey. Booker, for his part, is in the middle of a food stamp challenge — spending just over $29 for food from Dec. 4 to Dec. 12.
A Quinnipiac poll late last month showed 67 percent of New Jersey voters saying Christie deserved reelection; 25 percent disagreed. In a match-up with Booker, Christie prevailed, 53 percent to 35 percent.
Booker’s high name recognition in the state assured that he dominated the Democratic field in the poll. He got 41 percent, followed by State Sen. Richard Codey with 12 percent. No other candidate got more than 4 percent in the poll.
If Booker decides to run for the U.S. Senate instead, the 43-year-old will be taking on 88-year-old Frank Lautenberg, who has already said he will run for re-election in 2014.
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Jackson Adams, Teton Valley News
Ariane de Vogue, CNN
Dakin Andone, CNN
Alexandra King, CNN