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Top New Jersey Republicans Passing on Special Election


Newark Mayor Cory Booker is expected to seek the Democratic nomination. (AP Photo)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's choice to succeed the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, state Attorney General and longtime Christie aide Jeffrey Chiesa, won't run in the special election later this year. But he's not alone: Most of the names listed over the past few days as top potential GOP candidates are passing on the special.

The only declared candidate for the Republican nomination is former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, a conservative activist who lost to Christie by 13 points in the 2009 gubernatorial primary. Businessman Joe Plumeri reportedly also is considering a bid, but there are very few other Republicans who are even rumored to be interested at this point.

The list of GOPers who aren't running is much longer. In the hours and days following Lautenberg's death, much of the speculation on the Republican side focused on Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, state Sen. Joe Kyrillos and state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. But all three are privately saying they won't run in the special, according to National Review. State Sen. Kevin O'Toole and Assembly Minority Leader John Bramnick, two other Republicans who appeared on a lot of shortlists this week, both have ruled out running in the special.

The lack of interest has a lot to do with the time crunch that comes with mounting a campaign. The primary is scheduled for Aug. 13, but the filing deadline to submit 1,000 signatures is June 10 -- just six days after Christie called for the special election. Potential Republican candidates also look across the aisle and see a Democratic field, expected to include Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Reps. Rush Holt and Frank Pallone, with greater name recognition and more money.

This is why national Republicans were so upset with Christie's decision to hold the special election this year. While the GOP still would have faced an uphill battle in the blue state in 2014, the time constraints associated with a 2013 special election made it unlikely that any of the GOP's top prospects would even enter the race.

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