Reality TV star Randal Pinkett says he’ll consider running for lieutenant governor in New Jersey when and if an offer is made.
The season 4 “Apprentice” winner told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he had met with Gov. Jon Corzine, but the governor has not asked him to be his running mate.
“I am extremely honored to be among the people he is considering to join the ticket,” said Pinkett, an African-American businessman who co-chaired Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s transition team. “The governor did not offer me the lieutenant governorship. My family and I reserve the right, if it were to be offered, that I would then decide whether this is the right time for me to enter public life.”
Corzine has until Monday to announce his pick but said on the Internet he would do so Saturday. GOP challenger Chris Christie Monmouth County chose Sheriff Kim Guadagno as his running mate.
This November is the first election in which New Jerseyans will consider a No. 2 along with the governor. The position was added to the ticket after Gov. Jim McGreevey resigned following a gay affair and Senate President Richard Codey filled in for the remaining 13 months of the Democrat’s term.
Pinkett emerged as a front runner recently, but Corzine reportedly backed off the choice after it got negative reaction from some Democrats and on newspaper editorial pages.
The Rev. M. William Howard, pastor of Newark’s Bethany Baptist Church, and other prominent Pinkett supporters countered Wednesday with an op-ed article pointing to the possible candidate’s many academic and entrepreneurial accomplishments besides besting out competitors on Donald Trump’s reality program.
“Pinkett is one of New Jersey’s best and brightest,” the article says of the Rhodes scholar and Newark business owner. Pinkett first emerged in the national spotlight as an accomplished undergraduate scholar athlete while at Rutgers University in the early 1990s. While at Rutgers, he was chosen as an Arthur Ashe Sports Scholar by Black Issues in Higher Education magazine. Cox, Matthews and Associates, the publisher of Diverseeducation.com and Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, published Black Issues from 1984 to 2005.
Asked whether Pinkett had been harmed by the public vetting of his name, Corzine deferred.
“I think the Pinkett issue is unfortunate,” he said. “I don’t think it is the process.”
Other names on Corzine’s short list are state Sens. Loretta Weinberg of Teaneck and Barbara Buono of Edison and Superior Court Judge Joseph Charles.
Pinkett said he has received “no indication which direction the governor is planning to go” or a timetable. He said he was “used to being in the spotlight” and not angry about the criticism his potential candidacy has drawn.
A registered Democrat and unabashed Corzine supporter, Pinkett said he would become more active in the governor’s re-election campaign if called upon to do so.
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