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New Jersey: Booker Says Talk of Senate Campaign Is Premature

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In at least his third national television appearance in about 36 hours, Newark Mayor Cory Booker attempted to downplay his nascent Senate bid on MSNBC’s “The Last Word.”

“This is really not an issue right now. In order to stay in compliance with the Federal Election Commission, I can’t even do the due diligence of research, of travel, I can’t even go down to D.C. to meet with people from my mayoral account. I have to file something,” Booker said in a Monday evening interview.

“This is 18 months away. It’s a long time. All of New Jersey, we should not be talking about Senate races!” he added. “We have two great senators doing a great job for us, fighting the good fight on critical issues from guns to Sandy aid. … We don’t really need a distraction right now over a Senate race. It’s not even an election year.”

At issue is the fact that until Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg announces his retirement, Booker has essentially launched a primary challenge of the 88-year-old incumbent. The move sparked anger within Lautenberg’s camp and within New Jersey Democratic circles.

Booker indicated he had agreed to the Monday night MSNBC television appearance to discuss gun violence.

Booker has very publicly deliberated his political future during the past two months on television, and his launch was anything but soft. Cable news went into breaking news alerts as soon as a local affiliate broke the news, and then Booker posted a video online about his Senate plans.

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

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