Some see Chris Christie’s popularity as reason Cory Booker won’t challenge him for governor

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There will be no political showdown between Chris Christie and Cory Booker.  The Newark mayor announced today that instead he is exploring a run for the US Senate.

Many observers say the Stanford University and Yale Law School grad has the profile and charisma to topple his political “frenemy”, incumbent Governor Chris Christie next year.  Booker was gaining momentum in the polls in a potential run against Christie, until Hurricane Sandy rolled in, and bolstered the governor’s popularity statewide.

There is speculation that Christie’s booming popularity lead to Booker’s announcement on Thursday.

“As for my political future, I will explore the possibility of running for the United States Senate,” said Booker.

Chris Christie and Cory Booker

Cory Booker may have had the chops to take on his “frenemy,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

After making the necessary calls to New Jersey’s political power brokers, and reportedly to the White House, Booker has now set his sights on the US Senate seat currently held by Frank Lautenberg.

Lautenger has held the seat for the last five terms, but if he runs again in 2014, he will be 90-years-old.

“It would be a privilege and honor to continue his legacy of service,” said Booker.  “So I will continue my hard work as Newark’s mayor.”

Booker’s announcement could be interpreted as a not so subtle message to Lautenberg that it’s time to hang it up.

The bigger question: is Booker’s decision to bypass a tough race against Christie, in favor of a US Senate run, more about influencing federal policy or is he choosing the path of least resistance?

Mayor Booker’s support team says he is not speaking to the media today, but will have more to say in the coming days.