Friday's announcement by New Jersey state Sen. Richard Codey (D-Roseland) that he would not run for governor boosted the chances of state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen).
Codey, a former governor, announced that he would not seek a return to the chief executive's office in order to focus on a new funeral home he purchased, the Star-Ledger reported. Codey traveled to Washington in recent days to obtain at least $30 million in outside funding for a challenge against Gov. Chris Christie (R), who has held a commanding lead in the polls.
“After talking with my family, friends and other advisers and weighing the impact of a campaign on my family life, I have decided not to seek the nomination,” Codey told the Star-Ledger.
His decision leaves Buono's status as the only Democrat in the governor's race unchanged.
New Jersey Democratic leaders have been frantically searching for an alternative to Buono, who has trailed Christie in the polls and in fundraising. Codey was considered an attractive alternative given his high approval ratings during his 14-month stint as governor following Gov. Jim McGreevey's (D) resignation in 2004. State Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Elizabeth) publicly pushed Codey for governor calling him New Jersey's "Obi Wan Kenobi."
After Codey's decision, several Democrats jumped to Buono's side. Democratic leaders from Sussex and Ocean counties backed the former Senate majority leader, while PolitickerNJ.com reported that Rep. Frank Pallone (D) is planning to endorse her. Buono already has gathered backing from party leaders in Monmouth, Middlesex and Somerset counties.
Buono's candidacy received support from powerful south Jersey Democratic leader George Norcross and Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo (D), providing major boosts to her candidacy.
But the Star-Ledger reported that some Democrats including Lesniak continue to search for an alternative. State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford), who has feuded with Buono, continued to float his name for governor but his candidacy was dealt a blow when Norcross, his top ally, publicly praised Buono.
Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage (D), a Lesniak ally, has said he'd run if party bosses would support him.
Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange) told HuffPost earlier this week that she still sees space for another candidate since the state's most powerful Democratic county parties have not endorsed. New Jersey's political glitterati is due to gather in Washington on Jan. 31 for the annual state Chamber of Commerce train trip and dinner.
Also on HuffPost:
"It's Not My Time" (3 Doors Down)
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/04/chris-christie-2012-decision-_n_993910.html" target="_hplink">(Oct. 4, 2011) --</a></strong> Christie announced that he will not run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, vowing that "now is not my time." He quipped to New Jersey residents "whether you like it or not, you're stuck with me."
"Need You Now" (Lady Antebellum)
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/11/chris-christie-mitt-romney_n_1005601.html" target="_hplink"><strong>LEBANON, N.H. (Oct. 11, 2011) --</strong></a> After dismissing calls to run for president himself, Christie endorsed Romney, telling the GOP that he is the candidate we need now.
"How Do I Live" (LeAnn Rimes)
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/07/chris-christie-town-hall_n_1133756.html" target="_hplink">WEST NEW YORK, N.J. (Dec. 7, 2011) --</a></strong> At a local town hall, Christie did not take kindly to a <a href="http://videos.nj.com/star-ledger/2011/12/video_chris_christie_asked_if.html" target="_hplink">constituent's question</a> about how his administration conducts these types of meetings. He showed the individual little mercy, going "if I plant questions, why the hell did I call on you?"
"Can You Feel The Love Tonight" (Elton John)
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/08/chris-christie-mic-checked-occupy-wall-street_n_1136762.html" target="_hplink">(Dec. 8, 2011) --</a></strong> Occupy Wall Street protesters interrupted Christie during an appearance in Iowa, making him a target of the movement's "mic check" trend.
"Shut Up" (The Black Eyed Peas)
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/22/chris-christie-warren-buffett_n_1294579.html" target="_hplink">(Feb. 21, 2012) --</a></strong> In an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan, Christie had some choice words for Warren Buffett, surrounding the billionaire investor's desire to be taxed at a higher rate. "Just write a check and shut up," he remarked.
"American Idiot" (Green Day)
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/09/christie-argues-with-veteran_n_1334963.html" target="_hplink">(March 9, 2012) --</a></strong> Christie argued with a former Navy SEAL over the New Jersey's plans to reconfigure public universities. The result? Some fire from the governor's tongue, as he called the veteran an "idiot."
"Call Me Maybe" (Carly Rae Jepsen)
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/13/chris-christie-talks-vp-p_n_1423271.html" target="_hplink">(April 13, 2012) --</a></strong> Throughout Mitt Romney's run for the White House, Christie made it known that he was open to a vice presidential nod (should Romney ask him).
"Rocky Ground" (Bruce Springsteen)
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/19/chris-christie-sleeping-bruce-springsteen-_n_1438337.html" target="_hplink">(April 19, 2012) --</a></strong> Christie vehemently denied reports that he was sleeping at a Bruce Springsteen concert in New York City. <em><strong>
"I Don't Really Care" (Waka Flocka Flame)
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/30/chris-christie-jimmy-kimmel_n_1465608.html" target="_hplink">(April 30, 2012) --</a> Christie responded to jokes comedian Jimmy Kimmel made about his weight at the 2012 White House Correspondents Dinner, throwing Sofia Vergara into the mix. "I figured I was in the zone of danger," he said.
"Ready Or Not" (The Fugees)
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/14/chris-christie-gop-keynote-convention_n_1774525.html" target="_hplink">(Aug. 14, 2012) --</a></strong> After entertaining the idea of running for president and making Mitt Romney's short list of VP candidates, Christie was named the keynote speaker at the 2012 Republican National Convention. "I'll try to tell some very direct and hard truths to people in the country about the trouble that we're in and the fact that fixing those problems is not going to be easy for any of them," he told <em>USA Today</em>.