Booker collecting signatures for Senate

Newark Mayor Cory Booker is at work collecting the 1,000 signatures needed to run for New Jersey's open senate seat, his campaign confirmed Wednesday night, though they still have not make an official announcement about his plans.

"We will make an official announcement at the appropriate time," his campaign spokesman said in an e-mail.

The petition effort, though, is yet another of the many strong indications that the mayor will run for senate. He already has a campaign staff and has been raising money around the country. The Star-Ledger first reported his work collecting signatures.

With petitions due by Monday afternoon for anyone who hopes to run, the field to replace Sen. Frank Lautenberg should take shape quickly, perhaps as soon as the next 24 hours.

So far, few have openly stated their intentions, preferring to wait until after the ceremonies honoring Lautenberg, who died Monday.

But with the late senator's funeral completed Wednesday afternoon and a Monday deadline for submitting petitions to run, the floodgates for the race are seemingly about to open.

Already conservative Steve Lonegan, a one-time gubernatorial candidate, has said he will run, giving a voice to the right.

Republican Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, of Union County, is also said to be considering a bid as a more centrist GOP option.

On the Democratic side, U.S. Reps. Frank Pallone is said to be in and Rush Holt has said he is strongly considering running. 

And Gov. Christie is likely to announce his appointment to replace Lautenberg, at least for the short term, soon.

Other names could still emerge (though, as we reported Tuesday, South Jersey U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews has said he will not run).

Odds are, by Friday we should have a clear picture of who is in for the short sprint to an August primary and October election.