The chairman of the state Democratic party, Assemblyman John Wisniewski of Sayreville, who had been considering a run for governor next year against Gov. Christie, announced this afternoon that he's not getting in the race.
That means our first announcement about the Democratic field is actually a NON-announcement, which is interesting. Wisniewski had been considered part of a pack of second-tier potential contenders, which also includes Sen. Barbara Buono (D., Middlesex), former governor/Sen. Richard Cody (D., Essex/Morris), Assemblyman Lou Greenwald (D., Camden) and Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester).
The first-tier of contenders belongs to one man alone: Newark Mayor Cory Booker, whom most Democrats believe will "clear the field"...if he runs.
Did Wisniewski get out because he thinks/knows Booker is in? Again, he's the party chairman -- he might know such things.
Booker told me on Thursday that he's "deliberating" and will have announcement by Christmas. But he is getting a ton of attention this week for living on the budget of a food-stamp recipient, and he is in the middle of a media blitz: CNN's "Piers Morgan" last night, the "Today" show this morning, "The Daily Show" next Wednesday and, most intriguingly, "Face The Nation" tomorrow.
On Piers Morgan (below), he noted a recent poll pitting him against Christie, in which the governor got just 53 percent of voters. And he cited issues -- women's rights, abortion, education privatization, environmental policy -- that he disagrees with the governor on.
"I think he's vulnerable," Booker said.
Here's the full text of Wisniewski's announcement:
“I am announcing today that I will not seek the 2013 Democratic nomination for New Jersey Governor. The decision has not been an easy one, but after much discussion with supporters, friends and family, I have come to the conclusion that it is not the right time for me to pursue a statewide campaign for full-time public office, and that my obligations to my family and business should take precedence. I will, however, seek to remain in public office by seeking re-election to the New Jersey General Assembly, so that I can continue the fight on behalf of New Jersey's middle class families and in support of issues I consider important to the future of our state.
"I make this decision confident that there are a number of talented New Jersey Democrats capable of mounting a strong challenge to Governor Christie next year and firm in the belief that Democrats are fully capable of recapturing the Governor's office in 2013. While the incumbent has recently earned praise for his response to Hurricane Sandy, the fact remains that his policies have overwhelmingly favored New Jersey's wealthy at the expense of struggling families and have not represented the values of the people of our state. As New Jersey Democratic Chairman, I look forward to electing our candidate for Governor and returning a Democratic majority to the General Assembly and Senate in 2013.”