Sweeney passes on bid to unseat Christie, leaves Buono to lead Dem challenge
January 28, 2013By Phil Gregory
New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney has decided not to run for governor this year.
Sweeney says he's decided to focus on his own re-election bid and ensuring that Democrats retain control of the state Legislature.
Monmouth University political analyst Patrick Murray says some legislative seats now held by Democrats in South Jersey could be in danger if Gov. Chris Christie wins re-election by a huge margin.
"George Norcross needs to hold on to all those seats to maintain control of the Democratic leadership in Trenton," Murray said. "If he loses two seats, which is quite possible with a Christie landslide, then he could also lose that voting block within the Democratic Party, and there could be a real leadership battle for the Legislature come next year."
Sweeney's decision comes just a few days after state Sen. Dick Codey, who briefly served as governor, also said he's not entering the gubernatorial race.
Analysts expect Democrats will unite around declared Democratic candidate state Sen. Barbara Buono of Middlesex County in hopes that she can keep the November election against Christie a close contest.
Buono is a strong candidate, says Rider University political science professor Ben Dworkin.
"There's 700,000 more registered Democrats in New Jersey than there are Republicans," he said Monday. "While it's a very much an uphill battle to overcome Chris Christie, a mainstream Democrat like Barbara Buono can keep it close."