Pascrell says unions have come knocking on gov. bid

WASHINGTON D.C. – Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell is still mulling a bid for governor, he said tonight, and will make his decision in the next two weeks.

Pascrell, who was attending the quadrennial New Jersey State Society inaugural ball, said he will be speaking with Democratic County chairmen this week as well as exploring potential avenues for financing.

Asked what it would take to get him into the race, Pascrell said he has to be fully committed.

“I gotta want to do this,” he said.  “You can’t be 98 percent, you have to be 100 percent,” he said. “I said in the beginning I wasn’t going to pursue it, but it’s an intriguing idea. I find it very interesting and I’ve never passed up a challenge. But I’ve been through a tough year.  I don’t expect anyone to pat me on the back for that but it was a tough year.”

Pascrell said he is being pushed particularly hard by the unions to enter the race.

“I’ve sat down with a lot of union people,” he said.  “They think I can put a campaign together and raise money in a hurry.  I said, well, I’m glad you think that, but I’m looking at all the possibilities,” he said.

Pascrell said he has spoken to state Sen. Dick Codey, who also is mulling a bid and exploring fundraising options, and said if he decides to get in the race, “we would come to some type of agreement.”

Democratic state party Chairman John Wisniewski, who also was on hand to celebrate the swearing in of President Obama, was non-committal on his choice for a gubernatorial candidate, saying state Sen. Barbara Buono, the only declared candidate in the race to date, is building momentum.

“Sen. Buono is a candidate who by all measures leads the pack because she has taken the jump,” he said.  She’s raising money, she has three county’s support and is likely to have additional counties behind her before the end of the month,” he said.

Wisniewski said with several strong candidates, including Pascrell, Codey and Senate President Steve Sweeney mulling challenges to Gov. Chris Christie, the party can afford to wait another two weeks for a decision.

No matter what, Wisniewski said he believes the party will avoid a bruising primary.

“What I think this shows is that the Democratic Party has an abundance of riches. We’re blessed with candidates who are willing to step up to the plate and challenge this governor,” he said.

Other Democrats attending the event to honor the president, however, think the mulling by the potential candidates is doing nothing but hurting the party and shows an unwillingness to challenge Christie.

“It’s time,” one Democrat said. “Enough mulling.  Get in, Get out. But do something.”

"Sit down and shut up!"
—Gov. Chris Christie, to a Hurricane Sandy heckler