The chairman of the New Jersey Democratic Party has decided not to challenge Gov. Chris Christie (R) in next year's gubernatorial race.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville) told The Star-Ledger Sunday that he does not believe that it is the "right time" to run for governor, and that he prefers to focus on his private law practice and political responsibilities. Wisniewski's decision came the same day that Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D), the Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner, said on CBS' "Face The Nation" that he would make a decision "within the next two weeks" about entering the gubernatorial race. Booker is also considering a 2014 race for the U.S. Senate.
Several Democrats have been considering the race against Christie, who is enjoying a 72 percent approval rating in the wake of his handling of Hurricane Sandy, which ravaged the Garden State. New Jersey Senate president Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford), a potential candidate, told The Huffington Post last week that Christie's approval rating had been as low as 47 percent prior to the hurricane, and noted that a head-to-head match-up between Christie and Booker had the Republican at 53 percent.
In addition to Booker and Sweeney, state Sens. Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen) and Richard Codey (D-Roseland) and Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage (D) are considering becoming gubernatorial candidates. Buono is a former Senate majority leader, while Codey served 14 months as governor following the 2004 resignation of former Gov. Jim McGreevey (D). Sweeney is also considering a 2014 U.S. Senate race.
Wisniewski's decision not to enter the race comes after he has been increasingly critical of Christie's national GOP role over the course of 2012, along with his handling of Hurricane Sandy. Last month, he told PolitickerNJ that he believes that he "could do a better job" handling the hurricane.
Wisniewski's criticism of Christie's out-of-state travel on behalf of Republican candidates was slammed as "absurd" by state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-Westfield), who said that state legislative Democrats did not convene the legislature the entire summer. Wisniewski, a nine-term assemblyman, said he would seek reelection in his Middlesex County district. Wisniewski was elected state Democratic chairman in 2009.