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Cory Booker to explore Senate run

Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) on Thursday said he will explore running for the Senate in 2014.

Booker announced in a YouTube video that he would not run for governor of New Jersey, and would instead serve out the remainder of his term as mayor.

“Let there be no doubt I will complete my full second term as mayor of Newark, New Jersey. And as for my political future, I will explore the possibility of running for the United States Senate in 2014," Booker said in the video.

Booker had been mulling whether to run for the Senate seat currently held by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) or instead challenge New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R). 

Lautenberg, 88, has not said whether he plans to run for reelection in 2014, though he already has the endorsement of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a power-broker in the party.

Booker recently said that he was considering running for Lautenberg's seat independent of whether the senator decided to run again or not. 

"As I explore a run for the United States Senate I look forward to consulting with the United States Sen. Frank Lautenberg," Booker said in the video. "It would be a privilege, an honor to continue his legacy of service."

A spokesman for Lautenberg said he is focused on his work in the Senate.

"Senator Lautenberg is focused on passing a critical disaster relief bill for New Jersey and addressing America's broken gun laws," Lautenberg spokesman Caley Gray said. "The last several months and weeks have been a painful time for New Jersey and America, and the senator is working on the tough issues we face. This is not the time for political distractions and the senator will address politics next year."

Booker, a rising star in the Democratic Party, had been considered a potential challenger to Christie. But recent polling in found that Christie would trounce Booker in a head-to-head matchup.

The Public Policy Polling survey found Christie leading Booker 50 percent to 35 percent.

In 2008, Lautenberg was challenged by Rep. Rob Andrews (N.J.) in the Democratic primary. Andrews homed in on Lautenberg's age, but Lautenberg easily defeated Andrews before going on to win the general election.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) has long had his eye on a Senate seat and has the resources to mount a bid. Pallone has nearly $3.5 million cash on hand in his campaign war chest.

— This story was updated at 11:50 a.m. and 4:40 p.m.