By Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron
Now that Chris Christie has declared, the biggest question in New Jersey politics is whether Newark Mayor Cory Booker will run for the Democratic nomination.
Booker this morning told NJ Today, “I’m giving a run for governor thorough consideration and I will make a decision as quickly as possible. Critical to my decision is not the difficulties of the politics or positioning in polls but choosing the position — mayor, governor, U.S. senator or one outside of electoral politics — from which I can make the best contributions to the city and state I love.”
Republican Sen. Kevin O’Toole, a Christie ally, says after his hurricane performance, the governor looks nearly unbeatable even if Booker runs. “Listen, I’m not a pollster, but you read something like the Eagleton [poll] today, it talks about how Cory Booker loses by 19 points. Again this governor has made a compelling case as to why he should be reelected,” O’Toole said. “It’s striking that when you dive inside some of the of the polls that you see the crossover from the union households and Democrat households. The Democrats pre-Sandy I think there were 25 or 26 percent that were saying to reelect and now there are 67 percent. The crossover is astonishing.”
Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who is also state Democratic chairman and a possible candidate himself, downplays any new poll. “No one’s unbeatable,” he said. “It’s interesting. For him, it’s great news. But it’s not dispositive on the outcome of the election by any means. We all remember George Bush in January of 1992 probably had a 90 percent or even higher approval rating after the first Gulf War and in late November 1992 we were calling Bill Clinton president-elect.”
Krista Jenkins, who directs the Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll, says Democrats will have a tough time dislodging Christie. “I wouldn’t say impossible but by way of comparison I looked at the numbers for Gov. Corzine this time when he was up for reelection and his numbers were in the 30s, so when you have a 30 to 40 percent approval rating compared to 60 to 70 percent less than a year now to the election, it does seem to be a very difficult path for whomever chooses to challenge Governor Christie,” she said.
It’s a cliche that a year in politics is an eternity. It’s also true, as it’s true that no one in New Jersey is unbeatable. But most everyone would agree Chris Christie is looking awfully good heading into his reelection year.