Newark Mayor Cory Booker says he will not challenge New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in next year's gubernatorial race and will instead explore a run for U.S. Senate in 2014.
Booker, in a video posted to his YouTube page Thursday, said he would finish his term as mayor and "explore the possibility of running for the United States Senate in 2014."
NBC 4 New York was first to report the decision Thursday.
Booker says he will consult with Democrat Frank Lautenberg, the 88-year-old senator whose term is up in 2014 and is the oldest serving senator.
"It would be a privilege, an honor, to continue his legacy of service," Booker said.
Lautenberg spokesman Caley Gray said in a statement that the senator was focused on disaster relief and gun control and did not have time to talk about "political distractions."
Booker's decision not to challenge Christie comes as the Republican incumbent enjoys record-high approval ratings in polls taken since Sandy hit the Garden State.
Many Democrats considered Booker, the two-term mayor of Newark, to be their best chance to take on the popular Christie.