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NJ Democrats Weigh Potential Challengers To Take On Christie

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) - New Jersey Democratic leaders continue to hunt for another candidate to challenge Gov. Chris Christie.

Democratic state senate leaders gathered in Trenton ahead of Tuesday's State of the State address from Gov. Chris Christie.

In addition to offering their take on the governor's upcoming address, they discussed possible contenders to take on Christie in the gubernatorial race.

State Sen. Barbara Buono of Metuchen is the top name to make her bid official.

"We've got to get moving pretty quick," said State Senate President Steve Sweeney told reporters including WCBS 880's Jim Smith.

NJ Democrats Weigh Potential Challengers To Take On Christie

Sweeney did not rule himself out as a potential candidate for the state's highest seat.

"I don't want to sound like I feel like I'm the best, because we have several. I'm one of the people we're looking at, other county leaders are calling," Sweeney said.

Some Democrats are growing impatient, waiting on some like former Gov. Richard Codey to decide whether to challenge Christie and his soaring popularity, Smith reported.

Codey was acting governor for 14 months after Gov. Jim McGreevey resigned, but didn't run for a full term.

Sweeney said it's important to come up with strong candidates quickly.

"No one by any means thinks this is going to be an easy race," said Sweeney. "We want to make sure we put the best candidate forward."

State Democrats gave popular Newark Mayor Cory Booker the right of first refusal for the governor's race. Booker opted against a run for governor.

"Waiting the time that we waited didn't help anybody," Sweeney said. "Whoever we have run on our side will be competitive financially. I think the governor will have the financial edge, he's already started."

"I think the sooner that we can coalesce behind one candidate, the better off we are," said State Sen. Loretta Weinberg.

Last week, Buono announced that her campaign exceeded its fundraising goal and pulled in nearly $250,000 for the shortened quarter.

Buono says she anticipates raising enough funds in the coming weeks to qualify for matching funds.

Buono is the fourth Democrat to enter the race to challenge Christie, but the first who's well known on the state political scene. Also in the race are Edison Planning Board member William Araujo, Glen Ridge Mayor Carl Brigmason and perpetual candidate Jeff Boss.

As for Christie's coming State of the State address, Democratic state senators told reporters that the state is suffering from decades-high unemployment, housing foreclosures and a flimsier safety net for people living in poverty.

Christie's address will focus on the destruction brought on by Hurricane Sandy and the efforts to rebuild after the state's worst natural disaster.

Democrats, however, blame the Republican administration for failing to create jobs or rescue more homeowners from foreclosure. They say the state's fiscal problems predate the Oct. 29 hurricane, though the superstorm may make them worse.

A Quinnipiac poll from late November showed New Jersey voters gave Christie a record-high approval rating and strong support for a second term in office.

Who would you like to see on the Democratic ticket in the New Jersey governor's race? Sound off in the comments section below...

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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