POLITICS
11/30/2012 09:33 am ET Updated Nov 30, 2012

New Jersey Governor's Race: Barbara Buono Considers Run Against Chris Chrisite

A Democratic state senator is beginning to make moves for a possible challenge to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) in next year's election.

State Sen. Barbaro Buono (D-Metuchen) is being included a poll in order to test her chances in a match-up against Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) in a Democratic gubernatorial primary next year, PolitickerNJ.com reports. The move comes as Booker also considers entering the governor's race. PolitickerNJ.com reported that the poll discussed Buono's record and asked whether voters would choose her or Booker. Buono did not comment for the article.

The Democratic moves come days after Christie officially signaled his intent to seek a second term next year. A poll released earlier this week shows Christie holding a 72 percent approval rating among New Jersey voters, in light of his leadership of the state during and after Hurricane Sandy. Another poll indicated that Christie would defeat Booker, who is considered his strongest challenger, 53 percent to 35 percent. Booker is also considered a possible U.S. Senate candidate in 2014.

Buono, a former Senate majority leader, was first elected to the Senate in 2001 after several terms as an assemblywoman. She is the first woman to serve as Senate majority leader and as Senate budget committee chairwoman. Prior to serving in the state legislature, she served as a councilwoman and police commissioner in Metuchen.

Buono was ousted as majority leader earlier this year in favor of Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck). In 2009 Buono was also considered a potential lieutenant governor alongside former Gov. Jon Corzine (D), a slot she also lost to Weinberg.

In addition to Buono and Booker, state Sen. Richard Codey (D-Roseland), Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville), Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) and Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage have all been mentioned as potential candidates against Christie next year. Codey served 14 months as governor following former Gov. Jim McGreevey's resignation, while Wisniewski serves as state Democratic Party chairman. The Star-Ledger reported that Sweeney will run if Booker does not.

Christie was unanimously endorsed earlier this week by the Republican State Committee, and the state Senate Republican caucus indicated that Christie plans to meet with Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R) next week to discuss whether she will also run for a second term on his ticket. Assemblyman Sean Connors (D-Jersey City) also indicated he'd consider endorsing Christie's bid for a second term.

Buono's gubernatorial toe-dip comes as New Hampshire Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan (D) is poised to become the only Democratic woman governor in the nation in 2013. Four Republican women -- Arizona's Jan Brewer, New Mexico's Susanna Martinez, Oklahoma's Mary Fallin and South Carolina's Nikki Haley -- hold governorships.

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