Newark Mayor Cory Booker has floated another hint that he'll run for Governor in 2013, challenging Republican Chris Christie in what would be a high-profile clash of New Jersey's rising political stars.
Speaking to the Democratic LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) Caucus at his party's convention on Thursday (September 6), Booker predicted New Jersey would soon enact a bill allowing same-sex marriage in the state — perhaps with his own role in the process.
“I'm telling you right now, it's not a matter of if we're going to win marriage-equality in New Jersey. It's a matter of when we're going to win it,” Booker said, according to NBC News. “And I know in my heart of hearts, if God is willing, I will be there on that day that bill is signed. I might even have a very good seat when it gets done.”
Earlier this year, New Jersey's Democrat-controlled legislature passed a bill that would have made New Jersey the eighth state to allow gay marriage. But Chris Christie vetoed it, saying the question should be put to a popular vote.
Booker's statement fueled speculation that he will vie for Christie's job. Last month, the New York Observer's PolitckerNJ blog reported, citing anonymous sources, that Booker and his consultant were “meeting face-to-face with county chairs and making it known that Booker is weighing a run for governor,” a decision he would make by December.
Taking on Christie would be a formidable challenge. Known for his simple, blunt style of speech, Christie is a favorite governor among Republicans, many of whom had hoped he would seek the party's nomination for president. The Governor was in the national spotlight last Tuesday as the keynote speaker at the GOP convention.
But Booker's popularity is also soaring. The high-energy mayor has made national headlines for his efforts to turn around Newark, a city with high rates of poverty and violence. Battling flames in April to rescue his next-door neighbor from her burning home has helped his reputation, too, prompting some supporters to call him “Superman.”
On Tuesday, he gave a primetime convention speech of his own, eliciting loud cheers from Democrats gathered in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Christie and Booker have already developed a political rivalry, some of it cordial. In May, the men appeared together in a Youtube video, a parody of the sit-com Seinfeld, making light of the rivalry and Booker's reputation as a hero.
On Wednesday (September 5) in Charlotte, Booker urged Democrats to boost voter turnout in an effort to unseat Christie. "If we had voter turnout in our community, the world would not know who Chris Christie is," he said, according to the Newark-based Star-Ledger. "I think the governor has done some things that to me, very specifically, have pushed us back on issues of access to planned parenthood, have pushed us back on issues like gay marriage ... When we don't affirm equal citizenship rights for all Americans, that's divisive.”
Christie responded to Booker's challenge saying, "I have a great personal relationship and professional relationship with Cory Booker, the Star-Ledger reported. "I've had that now for nearly a decade and I'm confident that we'll continue to work very well together after he gets home so we can deal with the really severe financial difficulties that are going on in Newark that we're running out of time to deal with."