(CNN) – Cory Booker revealed little Sunday about plans to explore a Senate seat next year and potentially challenge a fellow Democrat, incumbent Sen. Frank Lautenberg.
The Newark, New Jersey, mayor - who passed on running against Gov. Chris Christie in this year’s gubernatorial race - filed formal paperwork last week to open up a Senate campaign committee, but added it was only done out of precaution.
“You have to file the papers even to do research on the issue, even to do travel on the issue. So we're complying with the law before we do any exploration of the Senate run,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Booker said he has yet to speak with Lautenberg. The senator, who turns 89 this month, has not announced whether he’ll run for re-election in 2014. Lautenberg's spokesman, Caley Gray, said Friday a report that "Senator Lautenberg has decided to retire is simply not true."
Saying he has “deep respect and love for” Lautenberg, Booker said on CNN last week that he’s “going to give him that space” to make a decision.
Should the two ultimately end up in a primary fight, Booker may have the upper hand in the duel, according to a recent survey. Forty-two percent of Democrats and voters who lean Democratic say they would prefer Booker, while 20% say they would back Lautenberg, according to the Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll of registered voters in the Garden State.
Pressed further Sunday morning on whether he will run for the Senate, no matter what, Booker said “that’s (his) intention.”
“But it's over a year away. A lot is going to change between now and then,” he said on NBC.
“But for me to do a good exploration, to do due diligence for running, I have to file formal papers,” he later added.
Booker was again asked if he was not ruling out a potential challenge, should Lautenberg decide to run again.
“I'm not ruling out anything right now, but I think it's premature to be speculative,” he said.
– CNN’s Paul Steinhauser, Greg Wallace and Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.