As discussed recently, Governor Chris Christie might find himself with a similar deep field of Democrats in 2013 as President Barack Obama currently faces with the large Republican field for the 2012 presidential election. Christie has not made a lot of Democratic allies in his less than two years in office. One of his chief critics has been state Senator Barbara Buono (D-18), who could very likely start to consider a run against Christie sometime early next year. Buono could be joined by one of Christie’s on-again, off-again ally in Trenton; Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-3). Sweeney was able to overtake some of the establishment in the Democratic Party when he snatched the top position in the state Senate from state Senator and former acting Governor Dick Codey (D-27) a couple years ago. Lastly, besides Sweeney and Buono, Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ6) might see a higher caller for himself in the state especially if he is negatively affected by congressional redistricting. He has been in Congress for two decades and is always seeking to gain more power within his party.
Those three Democrats have been discussed prominently amongst potential candidates, but Wednesday saw two potential primary opponents denounce any consideration for challenging Christie in 2013.
Congressmen Bill Pascrell (D-NJ8) and Steve Rothman (D-NJ9) currently represent two northern New Jersey districts that have seen population losses in the last decade. For that reason, one of the likely incumbent battles in 2012 could be Pascrell against Rothman. With that in mind, some might wonder that if they were to have to face each other; the loser might consider another avenue to continue their political careers. An avenue that keeps the loser in the Garden State and potentially on the opposite side of the ballot in 2013 from Chris Christie.
Congressman Pascrell grew up in Paterson and for 15 years he has represented that part of the state in Congress after time as mayor of one of the states largest cities. He was in Totowa Wednesday continuing to talk up jobs for members of his district and a lot of that involves going back to what made cities like Paterson shine several years ago: manufacturing. That commitment to a city and a region has led some Democrats to consider Pascrell amongst potential candidates that could strongly challenge Christie in 2013 and ultimately defeat him. The “tough guy”, who has stood up for the elderly, public servants, and middle class of the 8th Congressional District, has a passion that has drawn the attention of top Democratic officials.
The biggest obstacle that Pascrell and many within the party see for him running is his age. At 74 years old, he might be beyond his prime for a top position like governor. As a North Jersey operative put it,
“He’s their most aggressive guy, but his time has come and gone.”
If Pascrell was approached either after his time as mayor in the mid-1990s or when former Governor Christine Todd Whitman left to join President George W. Bush’s administration in 2001, for instance, Pascrell’s attitude towards being governor would probably be a lot different than it is now.
However, some still point to Pascrell being critical of Christie in 2009 when he was challenging then-Governor Jon Corzine. Equally critical was Pallone, a much more likely potential Democratic candidate.
Furthermore, an ally of Pascrell’s offered this opinion:
“I think Pallone is trying to keep it as a trump card because most people believe he’s the one Christie hates most, but I doubt he gets in….I mean can you really have three people from Middlesex all running?”
That three way congestion coming out of Middlesex County is Pallone, who represents part of the county in Congress; Buono, who serves the 18th Legislative District; and Assemblyman and Democratic State Party Chairman John Wisniewski, who serves the 19th Legislative District and could very likely be candidate too in 2013 for governor.
Nonetheless, that has not stopped another individual close to Pascrell from building his case for governor while still realizing the likely reality by stating that,
“People make the remark about his age but if you’ve been watching him you can see he’s got as much fire in the belly now as he did back when he was mayor and he’s still one of the best retail politicians in the state. An older ‘truth-telling’ candidate like him (or a female candidate) would give Christie trouble because he wouldn’t be able to push them around with impunity like he did with Corzine. At the end of the day though Pascrell isn’t going to run for Governor because he sees how bad it’s gotten in Congress and how the extremes have taken over. That’s actually made him more determined than ever to keep up the fight.”
Moreover, as the ally continued,
“Pascrell is more confident than most (regarding winning reelection in 2012) because he has a proven base of strong support in Passaic County so his feeling is if you want a fight he’ll give you a fight, simple as that.”
On the same day that Pascrell was dismissing a run for governor, his potential primary opponent; Congressman Steve Rothman (D-NJ9); was doing the same.
As Congressman Rothman’s office reported,
“Congressman Steve Rothman has great respect for the office of governor of the state of New Jersey, full well understands its important responsibilities, and is flattered by those who have suggested he should run to be New Jersey’s next governor. However, Congressman Rothman wishes to continue his career in public service for New Jersey in the Congress, where he continues to fight for and protect our country and our state. Therefore, Congressman Rothman will not be running for governor.”
Rothman represents part of Hudson County, where there is a strong Democratic stronghold that could boost his chances.
As the temperature prepares to heat up regarding congressional redistricting, two potential opponents are more concerned with finding a way to get reelected in 2012 and not concern themselves with targeting taking Christie’s job. They are more than content with allowing another top Democrat in the state do that.