New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney not running for governor

New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney has announced that he is not running for governor of New Jersey in 2017.

In a statement released Thursday, Sweeney said he will not seek the Democratic nomination due to the amount of support that fellow Democrat and gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy has garnered.

Hours after Sweeney's announcement, several North Jersey Democratic Leaders, including New Jersey Assembly Leader Vincent Prieto, announced that they were backing Murphy.

"It has become clear Phil Murphy has been able to secure substantial support from Democratic and community leaders," Sweeney said in a statement. Sweeney also said that the support would make his bid for governor "all but impossible."

Earlier this year, political experts said that it looked like Sweeney would be a front runner for governor's office because half of New Jersey residents said that they knew of him, according to polls.

"This is something that Phil Murphy has to build up and maybe that's why his campaign has been starting so early," says Rutgers Eagleton Polling Institute's Ashley Koning. "He's trying to build that name recognition that he desperately needs throughout the next several months."

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, who was another potential candidate, announced last week he would not run for the position. Fulop endorsed Murphy for governor at a news event last week.

Sen. Sweeney did not say if he was endorsing Murphy, but did also announce that he will seek re-election to his state Senate seat.

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