If Gov. Chris Christie leaves New Jersey to run in the 2016 presidential election, who will take his place?

State Sen. Pres. Steve Sweeney (David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ)

Both behind the scenes and publicly, Democrats and Republicans have been jockeying to replace Christie.  Sen. President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) has been touring New Jersey in recent weeks discussing his "Sandy Bill of Rights" measure.  Many political pundits see that as laying the groundwork for a possible statewide run.

Meanwhile, a handful of Republicans are staking out their own territory, but it remains to be seen if Christie will indeed throw his hat into the presidential race.

A Fairleigh Dickinson University-PublicMind poll released on June 4 asked New Jersey voters about three potential Republican candidates and three possible Democratic hopefuls.

"Starting with former Democratic Governor Dick Codey we find that he's familiar to 60 percent of voters with a favorable/unfavorable ratio of more than two-to-one," said Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind and professor of political science at FDU. "Behind him is Senate President Steve Sweeney. A majority (54 percent) know him with about equal numbers having positive and negative things to say about the powerful senator from the south."

Another Democrat who is getting some buzz in political circles is Jersey City mayor Steve Fulop. The survey shows that 85 percent of New Jersey voters still don't know who he is.

On the Republican side respondents were asked about Lt. Gov. Kim Gaudagno, State Sen. Jennifer Beck and Assembly GOP Leader Jon Bramnick. Each is struggling with name recognition.

"The current Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno is known to only about a-third and her favorables and unfavorables are about on par with each other," Jenkins said. "Finally there's Assembly Jon Bramnick and Sen. Jenn Beck, two others who have been speculated about when it comes to political ambitions in 2017. Both are staying beneath the radar for now as Bramnick is known to only 14 percent of respondents and Beck familiar to 20 percent."

 

(Kevin McArdle contributed to this report.)