Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has announced that he will not seek re-election for his Senate seat in 2014. The 89-year-old Senator has represented New Jersey as a strong liberal voice in the U.S. Senate for three decades; first winning his Senate seat in 1982, retiring in 2000, and returning ?in 2008.
?I am not announcing the end of anything. I am announcing the beginning of a two-year mission to pass new gun safety laws, protect children from toxic chemicals and create more opportunities for working families in New Jersey,? Lautenberg told?The Star-Ledger. ?While I may not be seeking re-election, there is plenty of work to do before the end of this term and I’m going to keep fighting as hard as ever for the people of New Jersey in the U.S. Senate.?
Lautenberg has been undecided and has sent mixed signals as to his intent to seek a sixth term. He was a successful businessman prior to his tenure in the Senate, and has been an innovative and progressive legislator. A World War II veteran, Lautenberg was born in Paterson, New Jersey to Russian and Polish parents. When his military service ended, he worked as an insurance salesman and co-founded?Automatic Data Processing?(ADP), best known as a payroll processor for mid-to-large-sized business and an ?outsourcer of business solutions.
His key accomplishments:
- Leader in the push to renew the ban on assault weapons and large ammunition magazines
- One of the first legislators to take on the fight with the tobacco industry; he spearheaded the effort to ban smoking on domestic airplane flights
- Sponsorship of a bill to withhold federal funds from states that refused to comply with raising the drinking age to 21
- Re-writing of the hazardous waste cleanup law
In New Jersey, the senator has clashed with Governor Chris Christie on several occasions over a number of issues: the governor slashing funding for poor people; forgoing the construction of a new rail tunnel that would link New Jersey and New York; and the merger of Rutgers-Camden with Rowan University. He has also expressed grave concern over fellow Democrats weakening the Democratic party by forming a close relationship with Governor Christie.
Senator Lautenberg was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2010. After enduring chemotherapy ? during which members of his staff shaved their heads in support ? he was declared cancer-free in June 2010. He has been absent from the Senate in recent weeks, even missing votes on the fiscal cliff and Hurricane Sandy relief, but when seen carrying a cane this week, the spunky senator said that he doesn’t really need it.??It adds cachet,? he joked. (Philasdelphia Inquirer)
Lautenberg’s plan to not seek re-election opens the field for a feisty Democratic primary in New Jersey.?Cory Booker, high-profile mayor of Newwark, New Jersey,?has unofficially declared his plan to run for Senate, to the consternation of Lautenberg’s staff, who felt Booker should have waited for the senator’s retirement announcement. Booker’s announcement created tension between himself and Senator Lautenberg, who said in a January 2013 interview with the?Philadelphia Inquirer?that Booker needs a spanking.
?I have four children, I love each one of them. I can’t tell (you) that one of them wasn’t occasionally disrespectful, so I gave them a spanking and everything was OK,? Lautenberg said. He was quick to remind everyone why he’s been elected to his seat five times.??He’s entitled to do it,? Lautenberg said of Booker’s proposed run. ?He’ll have to stand on his record and I’m sure he won’t be a lone soldier out there drooling at the mouth and wanting this cushy job that we have here.? (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Doing damage control, Booker made a point of?urging New Jersey Democrats to?continue?to support Frank Lautenberg. He explained that his campaign was in the preliminary stages and his focus was on Newark. A?January poll?by Quinnipiac University showed Booker leading Lautenberg 2-1, and a November, 2012?PPP poll?indicated that new Jersey residents favored Booker over Lautenberg.
Here’s the video:
Booker has earned a reputation as a ?Super-Hero Mayor? and?his efforts?have spiraled him into the sweet spot of being one of the most popular Democratic politicians in the country. As a?strong advocate for gun control, he would do a good job of stepping into the trail that has been blazed by Senator Lautenberg on that issue. He has also gained stature as an?advocate for marriage equality and equal rights for gay people, which would make him a fresh young voice as President Obama pushes the nation forward.
Though Booker is probably the leading Democratic candidate for Lautenberg’s seat, he is not alone. Other possible contenders include Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6th Dist.), Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex), and Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester).?Geraldo Rivera has expressed interest in representing the Republican party?in a fight against the Democrats for Lautengerg’s seat.
Senator Lautenberg’s formal announcement is expected Friday.