U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a pugnacious and plain-spoken Democrat who has represented New Jersey for three decades, will not seek re-election to a sixth term next year.
“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.”
The decision by Lautenberg, 89, who has been giving mixed signals for months, marks the end of a political era in New Jersey and one that is likely to set off a fierce primary battle as Democrats, including Newark Mayor Cory Booker, jockey for the rare open seat….
While Booker is the leading Democratic candidate for Lautenberg’s seat, he is far from the only one. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6th Dist.) has privately told party leaders he intends to run if Lautenberg retires. Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex) has also expressed interest. In addition, Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) has set up an exploratory committee.