NEW YORK—Cory Booker said Thursday he won’t run against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the state’s gubernatorial race next year—choosing to “explore” a run for U.S. Senate instead.
The Democratic mayor of Newark, N.J., announced his decision on Twitter, pointing followers to a YouTube video in which he declared he wanted to serve out his current term at City Hall and “finish" the work he started.
"Let there be no doubt, I will complete my full second term as mayor," said Booker, a rising star in his party. "As for my political future, I will explore the possibility of running for the United States Senate in 2014."
He said he would consult with New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who is widely expected to retire after this term. “It would be a privilege, an honor to continue his legacy,” Booker said.
Booker’s decision is a major blow to New Jersey Democrats, who had viewed the mayor as the party’s best chance to defeat Christie. But Christie, who had been viewed as vulnerable in the race, has enjoyed a bump in popularity for his leadership in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, making him a stronger candidate than expected.
Booker initially said he would announce his decision about his political future just after Election Day, but the mayor delayed that decision after Sandy—telling reporters that he needed more time to weigh his options.
In the video, Booker said he will still be active in the state’s 2013 election, insisting that “nobody is going to fight harder than me for the entire Democratic ticket.” But he also laid the tentative groundwork for his own 2014 Senate bid, addressing several issues he said would be important to the nation’s future, including education, gun control and job creation.
“We must confront a catastrophic debt crisis that could devastate the middle class,” Booker declared.
Booker’s campaign office did not return phone calls seeking comment. But the mayor is expected to file paperwork on Thursday with the U.S. Senate and Federal Election Commission allowing him to start raising cash for the 2014 race.