12/19/2012 06:35 pm ET Updated Dec 20, 2012

Frank Pallone Considers U.S. Senate Bid In 2014

While Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) continues to publicly consider whether to run for New Jersey governor next year or the U.S. Senate in 2014, Rep. Frank Pallone, another New Jersey Democrat, has told party leaders he's interested in a potential Senate run.

Pallone has been informing party leaders of his interest in a U.S. Senate race in the event of a vacancy in 2014, PolitickerNJ.com reports. Pallone's overtures come as the Monmouth County Democrat travels the state attending county Democratic Party events. U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D), 88, has not indicated if he will seek reelection in 2014.

While Pallone lacks the star power of the nationally known Booker, he has developed a relationship with party leaders statewide, PolitickerNJ.com reported, citing New Jersey sources. Under New Jersey's electoral system, county party leaders may award the "county line" to candidates in primaries, giving preferential placement on that county's primary ballot. Booker has also developed close relationships with several party leaders around the state.

Booker has indicated that he will make a decision before the end of the year about whether he will challenge Gov. Chris Christie (R) next year or run for Senate in 2014. Booker, considered a frontrunner in the governor's race, would likely face a challenge from state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen) in a gubernatorial primary next year. Buono, a former food stamp recipient who announced her candidacy last week, has received backing from party leaders in Middlesex and Somerset Counties. State senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) and Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage (D) have told The Huffington Post that they are weighing their owns bids for governor.

Lautenberg, a five term senator, was endorsed by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in 2011 for the 2014 race. Lautenberg has been a vocal Christie critic in the last year, challenging the governor on a variety of state issues.

Pallone, a former state senator, was first elected to Congress in 1988 and chaired the Health Subcommittee during the writing of the Affordable Care Act. News of his continued interest in a potential Senate run comes as he backed an effort by small business owners in New Jersey to let the Bush tax cuts expire as part of any fiscal cliff deal in order to help small business growth.

“Our small businesses are engines of economic growth in our New Jersey communities and are especially critical to our local economies as we recover from Superstorm Sandy,” Pallone said in a statement issued by the New Jersey Main Street Alliance. “Any fiscal cliff deal must reflect a balanced approach that asks the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share, does not place the burden on our small business owners and middle class Americans and protects important federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid.”



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