PATERSON, NJ – The chairman of the state Democratic Party has joined the chorus of New Jersey political leaders who see Bill Pascrell Jr. as a strong gubernatorial candidate.

The Democratic chairman, John Wisniewski, an Assemblyman from Sayreville, said Pascrell would be a “formidable candidate,’’ according to a story on

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Last week, state Senate president Steve Sweeney reached out to Pascrell about the former Paterson mayor’s gubernatorial chances, according to

In the aftermath of Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s decision not to run against incumbent Republican Chris Christie, only one Democrat has entered the race – state Senator Barbara Buono from Middlesex County.

In an article today on, Pascrell called the possibility of running for governor “intriguing.’’

The Democratic chairmen for Passaic and Bergen counties already have said a Pascrell candidacy might be a good choice to oppose Christie, according to a story on

For Pascrell, getting support from party leaders in Bergen and Passaic party leaders might be a given. But getting the backing of key Democrats from Central and South Jersey would be crucial if he were to consider running.

Many local political leaders in Paterson would welcome a Pascrell candidacy, especially considering the city’s uneasy relationship with the Christie administration.

Under Christie, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has taken a tough stand monitoring city government spending as part of an agreement that provided Paterson with $21 million in Transition Aid last year. Holiday events like the Mother’s Day Breakfast and Memorial Day celebration had to be canceled as a result of DCA restrictions.

In fact, Christie has accused local officials of mismanaging municipal funds.

Meanwhile, Christie’s education department in 2010 and 2011 imposed a seven-month spending freeze on Paterson Public Schools. Also, the Christie administration has retained control over the city school district, revising evaluation scores last year that would have given Paterson’s Board of Education partial control.