Frank Lautenberg To Announce Pending Retirement Today [AUDIO]
New Jersey's senior U.S. Senator will travel today to his hometown of Paterson to announce his pending retirement. Frank Lautenberg will not seek re-election in 2014 and that changes the entire dynamic of that particular race.
Lautenberg says, "I will not seek re-election in 2014. This is not the end of anything, but rather 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. 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."
Newark Mayor Cory Booker publicly announced he would explore a run for Lautenberg's seat, but New Jersey Democratic State Committee Chairman John Wisniewski doesn't think that scared Lautenberg into calling it quits.
He explains, "Everybody who holds elected office has to understand that there are other people who may want that elected office."
First elected in 1982, Lautenberg is 89-years-old. Wisniewski doesn't know if age played a role in the retirement decision.
"The only person who could speak to the age factor and whether it was time (to retire) is Senator Lautenberg."
"We have very good choices within our Party to succeed Frank Lautenberg and there is plenty of time for the Party, the members and the leadership to consider those choices," says Wisniewski. "It doesn't change the dynamic of New Jersey. It's a Democratic state and as a Democratic state we continue on a national level to elect a President, members of the House of Representatives and Senators who are Democrats and that's not going to change."
Wisniewski won't speculate on who will emerge as the Democratic nominee for Lautenberg's seat. He says his Party is focused on the 2013 gubernatorial and legislative races. Aside from Booker, Senate President Steve Sweeney, U.S. Representative Frank Pallone and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver are the most talked about possible successors. New Jersey hasn't elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since 1972.
Booker says Lautenberg has championed New Jersey for decades and helped Newark "endure difficult days" and calls him a "strong model of leadership."
"Senator Lautenberg has fought tirelessly for the people of New Jersey during his time in the U.S. Senate," says Sweeney. "Frank is someone who never backed down when it came to the issues that mattered most to our state. I look forward to working with him in the months ahead to continue to advance the priorities that will improve our state's economy and the lives of New Jersey's middle-class and working families."
Pallone says, "I have been proud to serve with Senator Lautenberg and even prouder to call him a friend. I look forward to continuing to work together in the coming months to continue to address the issues that are important to him and New Jersey. Like all New Jerseyans, I am grateful for his service to our state and our nation."
Governor Chris Christie and Lautenberg have been bitter enemies since Christie took office and the Governor aside from working together to secure Sandy relief aid, never seems to sidestep an opportunity to bash the Senator. After hearing of Lautenberg's pending retirement, Christie was more cordial.
"Frank Lautenberg and I have had our differences through the years, but I've always respected him for his tenacity, devotion to the people of New Jersey and his love for and commitment to public service," says Christie. "I will always be grateful for his doggedness in fighting with me and the delegation to ensure congressional passage of an aid package after Hurricane Sandy that is delivering necessary assistance to our residents. I wish him the best in his retirement."
State Senator Barbara Buono, the presumptive Democratic nominee for Governor in 2013 says, "Senator Frank Lautenberg has committed his life to serving the state of New Jersey. As a veteran of World War II, a successful businessman and a five-term Senator, Senator Lautenberg has always exemplified what it means to be a public servant. New Jerseyans have been lucky to have such a distinguished elected official represent our state's interests in Washington and he will be sorely missed."
President Barack Obama says, "Frank is a steadfast champion of the people of New Jersey. Throughout his time in the Senate, Frank has fought tirelessly for workers, veterans, members of our military and their families, and immigrants, and he continues to make extraordinary contributions to our nation's safety, and the health and welfare of our citizens. His service in World War II is a testament to his character and deep commitment to public service. I look forward to working with Frank on critical issues before us these next two years."
Fellow New Jersey U.S. Senator Bob Menendez released a statement last night.
"I congratulate Senator Frank Lautenberg on the commencement of his two-year mission to robustly complete his service to the people of New Jersey in the United States Senate. "
"Time after time, when others stayed quiet or turned away from tough issues, Frank was always on the forefront working for all of us," says U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell. "Our nation, our state, and our shared hometown, will all miss his tenacity in the United States Senate. While it saddens me to learn of his retirement, I know Frank Lautenberg will never be on the sidelines."