Newark Mayor Cory Booker will not challenge New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in next year’s gubernatorial race.
Instead, Booker will run for the U.S. Senate in 2014, seeking the seat of fellow Democrat and incumbent Senator Frank Lautenberg. The 88-year-old senior senator has not publicly said whether he’ll run for another term and dismissed Booker's announcement as a "political distraction."
Booker’s decision comes as Republican Gov. Chris Christie enjoys record high approval ratings in the wake of his response to Hurricane Sandy, which ravaged the New Jersey coastline.
The two-term Newark mayor was considered by many Democrats as the party's best hope of stripping Christie of his post.
Though Booker won't face Christie head on, he pledged to get "fully involved" in the Garden State's 2013 elections. "No one is going to fight harder than me for the entire Democratic ticket from top to bottom," he said in a video statement released Thursday (below).
Booker, ever the social media-savvy politician, tweeted his Thursday announcement to his 1.3 million followers.
Thank you for your support up to this point. Read about my upcoming plans here: bit.ly/QnTP8 #finishingthework— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) December 20, 2012
The mayor, who was in the public eye earlier this month thanks to his seven-day experiment living off food stamps, said he's exploring a Senate run to combat the national challenges that trickle down to New Jersey and Newark. Among those problems Booker wants to address in Washington: the debt crisis, education and immigration reform, and marriage equality for all.
Booker also pledged to "bring sanity to national gun safety laws."