The Newark mayor told an audience at a Fair Lawn Democratic County Committee event Thursday that he would consider running against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in 2013 or for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Frank Lautenberg the following year (when the incumbent will be 90), if either opportunity presented itself.
"I came [to Newark] and said I was going to do a mission, but I'll tell you this, I'm strongly considering the options at the end of my term," Booker said in answer to a question. His statement was greeted with thunderous applause by the partisan crowd of about 200, according to the Fair Lawn Patch.
The Star-Ledger of Newark reported last month that a source close to Booker said the mayor would be open to a Senate run if a seat appeared available. During Booker's speech Thursday, he voiced his support for Obama's re-election and criticized Democrats who were hesitant to join in the battle against politicians on the right side of the spectrum.
Partly because of Booker's popularity in Newark, the most populous city in the Garden State, he has been considered one of the rising stars of the Democratic Party. In April, Booker gained more popularity points by rushing into a burning house to save one of his neighbors. Entering the home with two of his security guards, Booker carried a woman down from the second flight of her home and outside the house, according to the Star-Ledger.
In May, Booker put those popularity points at risk by criticizing Obama's attacks on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital. During an appearance on NBC's "Meet The Press," Booker called the attacks "nauseating to the American public." Even though Booker would eventually walk back those remarks, an anonymous Democratic staffer told the New York Post that what the mayor said was "the final nail," presumably in the coffin of his hopes for a high-level appointment by the federal administration.
Although a campaign for the governor's office appears less likely than does a run for a Senate seat, Booker would have quite the opponent on his hands were he to challenge Christie. The New Jersey governor is one of the darlings of the Republican Party, and some media outlets have reported he has even been tapped to deliver the keynote address at the Republican National Convention next month. That's the same job Obama was given at the Democratic National Convention in 2004.
As easily as Booker could win an election that would take him out of Newark, Christie could win a presidential appointment that would take him out of Trenton. Christie has previously stated that he doesn't yet know whether he will seek re-election, and a bigger stage could await him. In May, the Washington Post reported on Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind Poll, which found 56 percent of New Jersey's voters approve and only 33 percent of them disapprove of the job the state's governor has been doing.
Both politicians have shown an ability to appeal to the other side of the aisle, and, partly because of that, there is a strong possibility both will be moving up the political ladder.