There's no turning back for State Senator Barbara Buono. She's pushing every chip she has to the center of the table and going all-in.

Senator Barbara Buono (D) at the breakfast before the NJ Chamber of Commerce Train To Washington (Gellman Images)

There's no telling how this year's gubernatorial race will end up, but if Buono loses to incumbent Governor Chris Christie she will be out of public office because she has to forfeit her Senate seat in order to take a run at the Governor's office.

One expert says a loss might not mean the end of Buono in New Jersey politics.

"Lots of people have run statewide, lost and come back," explains Ben Dworkin, director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University. "(Former Governor) Tom Kean ran statewide before he was successful. (Former Governor) Jim Florio ran statewide and lost before he was successful. (Former Governor) Christie Whitman ran statewide, lost and then came back and won for Governor."

Former Governor Jim McGreevey also lost a very close gubernatorial race 1997 before winning office in 2001.

Building Name Recognition

Dworkin explains, "Sometimes it takes a an effort like this to get everyone to know you, to build up good will and to take on a fight like this in order to be successful down the road. I wouldn't necessarily count out Barbara Buono even if this doesn't turn out with a happy ending."

Buono would have to keep the race close in a loss to be a force to be reckoned with later says Dworkin and he thinks in a state with 700,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans, Buono can keep it close.