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managed expectations

Cory Booker Not Daring to Take On Chris Christie in New Jersey

In this Jan. 25, 2011 file photo, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, left, jokes with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie during a news conference at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

Newark mayor and arguable superhero Cory Booker has long been planning his ascent to a higher level of political office, but with one man standing firmly in his way. Instead of facing off with the very popular and very confident Chris Christie for governor of New Jersey next year, Booker will instead likely run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by 88-year-old Democrat Frank Lautenberg in 2014, according to increasingly certain reports. Says NBC New York this morning: "Booker is expected to tweet his decision to his more than 1 million followers some time Thursday." Because of course.

"I’m going to go into a state of cryogenic sleep, then try to wake up, take a deep breath, and begin to evaluate reelection, which is still a real possibility. The joke I always make is I’m either running for reelection, running for Senate, running for governor, or running for my life," Booker told New York's Jada Yuan last month after Hurricane Sandy. "The latter is also a viable possibility."

Booker "has been back and forth. That's the bottom line. It's his decision," a Democratic adviser said in a Wall Street Journal report earlier this week. "It's obviously a life-defining decision. I don't fault him for taking his time." But all recent indications — not the least of which was Christie's footing — pointed to the Senate, despite Booker's claims that the governor was "vulnerable."

"What do you expect him to say?" Christie quipped, pointing proudly to his post-hurricane approval rating. "If I'm vulnerable at 77 percent so be it. That's OK. I'm fine." A recent head-to-head poll had Booker losing 53 percent to 35 percent.

"Life is about purpose not popularity, significance not celebrity," Booker tweeted this morning, ahead of any official word on his decision. "If u have no detractors, critics or adversaries ur probably not doing much."

Update: In a YouTube video uploaded today, Booker says, "Let there be no doubt: I will complete my full second term as mayor of Newark, New Jersey," and "will explore the possibility of running for United States Senate in 2014." On Twitter, he added, "Thank you for your support up to this point."

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Photo: Julio Cortez/AP/Corbis