Skip to main content

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) official portrait
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
It's a game-changer in New Jersey: Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg has just announced that he will retire at the end of this term, rather than seek re-election. Lautenberg had previously shot down reports that he would call it quits, but a number of recent polls showed him faring very poorly in a hypothetical primary matchup with Newark Mayor Cory Booker. Given that, plus his age (if he won another term, he'd be 96 by the end), Lautenberg's about-face doesn't seem especially surprising.

All eyes now will turn to the Democratic primary to succeed him, since Republicans have virtually no bench here and little hope of winning a Senate seat in the Garden State. (The GOP hasn't won an election for Senate in New Jersey since 1972.) Booker had taken several steps toward a primary challenge to Lautenberg, but in so doing, he seemed to infuriate much of the Jersey Dem establishment by not showing sufficient respect to the incumbent. They may secretly be glad Booker wasn't willing to wait his turn in line, though, since his impatience may have helped usher Lautenberg out the door, and now other Democrats will feel free to jump in.

The person who's seemed closest to a bid is Rep. Frank Pallone, who, according to various reports, has been slowly and quietly locking up support from the various local power-brokers who are often crucial to success in New Jersey politics. Other possibilities include state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, and even Rep. Rob Andrews, who ran a disastrous primary campaign against Lautenberg in 2008. State Sen. Richard Codey could also be a possibility. Booker, incidentally, never officially declared that he'd run, but it would be pretty surprising if he now decided to pass up the chance.

New Jersey hasn't had an open Senate seat since 2000, which incidentally was the last time Lautenberg retired before his unexpected comeback in 2002, so we can expect a pretty intense contest, even if it's just a one-on-one matchup between Booker and Pallone. And if it's a battle between a young self-styled reformer with ambitions of national profile versus a creature of the old school intent on following the traditional playbook, it could be a very interesting race indeed.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 12:30 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site