CORY BOOKER, Newark
Mayor of Newark since 2006
RESUME: Former Newark city councilman; graduate of Stanford, Yale Law, and Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University.
HIGHLIGHTS: Focusing on Newark, he turned down President Obama’s offer to head the White House Office of Urban Affairs. Presented party platform at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Credited with attracting Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million donation to Newark schools.
PLATFORM: Supports gun reform with background checks, immigration reform, gay marriage and equal rights for gay immigrants.
CAN HE WIN? A political celebrity, Booker is the early favorite for the Democratic nomination—and the overall race in October
ALIETA ECK, Franklin Twp.
Physician in Somerset County
RESUME: Studied internal medicine at Robert Wood Johnson in New Brunswick; cofounded a free clinic for poor and uninsured in 2003; former president of Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.
HIGHLIGHTS: Testified in 2004 before a congressional panel on health care and again in 2011 against Obamacare.
PLATFORM: Favors strict interpretation of the Constitution, smaller government and repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Seen as the Tea Party candidate.
CAN SHE WIN? With no experience in public office and little name recognition, Eck faces an uphill battle.
RUSH HOLT, Hopewell Twp.
U.S. Representative for NJ’s 12th Congressional District since 1999
RESUME: M.A. and PhD. in physics from NYU; former professor at Swarthmore College; former assistant director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab.
HIGHLIGHTS: Second research physicist to be elected to Congress; one of two members to appear on Jeopardy! (He won five times.)
PLATFORM: Pro-choice; supports public health care and environmental protection; opposes privatization of Social Security; rated one of the most liberal members of the House by National Journal in 2009.
CAN HE WIN? Mix of politics and physics makes him a unique candidate, but he lacks Booker’s name recognition.
STEVE LONEGAN, Bogota
Director of the NJ chapter of Americans for Prosperity
RESUME: Graduate of William Paterson and Fairleigh Dickinson; mayor of Bogota, 1995-2007; sought GOP gubernatorial nomination, 2005 and 2009.
HIGHLIGHTS: Petitioned in 2006 for English to be recognized as the official language of Bogota.
PLATFORM: Against amnesty for illegal aliens and immigration reform; favors tax cuts, repeal of Obamacare and cuts in environmental regulations.
CAN HE WIN? The likely GOP nominee, he will try to be the first Republican elected to the Senate from New Jersey since Clifford Case in 1972.
SHEILA OLIVER, East Orange
Speaker of New Jersey General Assembly
RESUME: M.S. in community organization, planning and administration from Columbia University; former Essex County freeholder; member of the state Assembly since 2004.
HIGHLIGHTS: First African-American speaker of the state’s General Assembly.
PLATFORM: Supports gun control, marriage equality, higher minimum wage, higher earned income tax credit for working poor and property tax relief.
CAN SHE WIN? Oliver hopes to become the state’s first female senator, but likely will split votes with Booker, since both are African-American and from Essex County.
FRANK PALLONE, Long Branch
U.S. Representative since 1992 (currently 6th Congressional District)
RESUME: Law degree from Rutgers University; served on Long Branch city council; state senator, 1983-1988.
HIGHLIGHTS: Played a leading role in passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 as chairman of the House Health Subcommittee.
PLATFORM: Favors extending role of government, implementing Obamacare and stronger environmental protection.
CAN HE WIN? An experienced candidate with a record of support for organized labor. Democratic voters will have a hard time distinguishing between Pallone and fellow liberal Holt.