The election fatigue so many predicted at the end of the presidential race hasn't lasted long in New Jersey, at least not in political circles.

Pundits and candidates are already turning their attention to next year's gubernatorial race, with most of the action coming on the Republican side. Two candidates have already stepped into the ring and many are anticipating word from former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, who may be the GOP's biggest puncher.

Two stories today size up the race.

The Inquirer's Cynthia Burton details the early moves by the two declared candidates, former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan and Morris County Assemblyman Rick Merkt, and the speculation around Christie.

Meanwhile, Bergen Record columnist Alfred Doblin considers the idea of a Republican upset. While most observers expect a race between Gov. Corzine and Christie next fall, Doblin points out that many experts also thought the presidential race would come down to Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney.

Doblin assesses Lonegan's chances for an upset, saying his conservative message may resonate and that Christie has some political liabilities to go along with his shining record on corruption.

The column also includes this gem, after noting that Lonegan, an outspoken conservative with a flair for grabbing headlines, was mayor of a borough about the same size as Wasilla, Alaska. "He could be the next Sarah Palin - although I don't think many women or men will describe Steve Lonegan a "hot."

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