WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg does not plan to seek re-election in 2014, bringing a close to nearly three decades representing New Jersey.
“I will be traveling to my hometown of Paterson tomorrow to announce that I will not seek re-election in 2014,” Lautenberg said in a statement. “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.”
Rep. Frank Pallone released a statement saying he was “proud to serve with Senator Lautenberg and even prouder to call him a friend.”
Pallone is widely considered a top candidate to replace Lautenberg but a potentially large number of candidates may emerge in the Democratic primary, which would be tantamount to victory. Newark Mayor Cory Booker announced plans in December to run for Lautenberg’s Senate seat.
At age 89, Lautenberg is the oldest current senator and the last veteran of World War II serving in the chamber. Before entering politics, he was the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Automatic Data Processing, Inc.
“Frank Lautenberg has been an extraordinary public servant,” said James J. Devine, a Democratic strategist who worked on the Senator’s first 1982 campaign. ”New Jersey and America are better for having had his service and steadfast leadership.”
Lautenberg retired in 2000 but a little over a year after he left office, he was called upon again to replace incumbent Senator Bob Torricelli, who had won nomination for a second term in the June primary elections but was facing federal corruption charges and an uphill climb for reelection against the Republican nominee.
Lautenberg is considered one of the Senate’s most liberal members.
He is pro-choice, supports gun control, has shepherded legislation that helped Amtrak ridership reach record levels, and criticized the Bush administration on national security issues.
He is probably best known as the author of the legislation that banned smoking from most commercial airline flights and for authoring the Ryan White Care Act, which provides services to AIDS patients.
Upon his return to the Senate, Lautenberg was the first U.S. senator to introduce legislation calling for homeland security funds to be distributed solely on the basis of risk and vulnerability.
Lautenberg had been diagnosed with a diffuse large b-cell lymphoma and was later hospitalized with profuse gastric bleeding following a fall in his Cliffside Park home in February 2010. On June 26, 2010, the senator announced that he was cancer-free after undergoing treatment.
“As we are both sons of immigrant parents, I know that Frank Lautenberg has always known what it means to pursue the American dream and to keep that dream alive for his fellow Americans,” said U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ). “New Jerseyans have always known Frank for his straight talk and hard work. His legislative accomplishments are many and some – such as prohibiting domestic violence offenders from possessing guns, and stopping federal aid to terrorist nations – have been groundbreaking. I look forward to working with him during the next two years to add to those accomplishments.”
“I express my deep appreciation for Senator Lautenberg’s more than three decades of distinguished public service to the state of New Jersey and the Nation,” said Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ-7). “While we may not have always agreed on public policy issues, I have long admired the Senator’s tenacity and tireless work ethic on behalf of the people of New Jersey. I look forward to continuing to work with him during the 113th Congress.”
“We are very sad to hear that Sen. Lautenberg will not be seeking reelection,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “He has been an environmental champion. He is someone who has worked tirelessly to protect the environment here in New Jersey and across the country. We have worked very closely with Sen. Lautenberg on everything from preservation of Sterling Forest, protection of our beaches from offshore drilling, cleaning up toxic sites, chemical security and climate change. He has always been in the forefront in protecting our environment and has truly been our environmental Senator.”
“Sen. Frank Lautenberg has committed his life to serving the state of New Jersey,” said state Sen. Barbara Buono, the presumptive Democratic candidate for governor. “As a veteran of World War II, a successful businessman and a five-term Senator, Sen. 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.”
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