Newark Mayor Cory Booker's fledgling Senate bid isn't exactly clearing the field in New Jersey. One day after news broke that Booker had filed papers with the FEC officially setting up his campaign, the Newark Star-Ledger is reporting that Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver is considering joining a potentially packed Democratic primary field.
Oliver's flirtation with the race is the latest indication that, while Booker is a rising star in the national party, the state establishment doesn't appear ready to line up behind his Senate bid. Booker's alleged lack of deference to Sen. Frank Lautenberg, as well as his decision not to challenge Gov. Chris Christie this year, reportedly upset some local Democrats.
A Lautenberg spokesman on Friday denied a report that the senator has decided not to seek reelection next year. Rep. Frank Pallone appears poised to jump into the race if Lautenberg eventually steps aside.
Booker is no stranger to clashes with the state party. During his first mayoral campaign in 2002, the Democratic machine lined up behind then-Mayor Sharpe James, who narrowly defeated the upstart city councilman. And Booker can still count on significant support from the national Democratic establishment.
A Fairleigh Dickinson poll released this week shows Booker begins the race as the favorite over Lautenberg. But it’s looking increasingly unlikely that Booker will have the Democratic primary field to himself.