PATERSON — After 28 years of standing up for New Jersey families through a strong record of legislative accomplishment, progressive leadership, and dedicated public service in the United States Senate, Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) today officially announced that he will not seek a sixth term.
“Today I am announcing the beginning of a two-year mission to pass new gun safety laws, protect children from toxic chemicals, and to ensure that working families are not left behind. While I will not stand for re-election in 2014, I will continue working for the next two years to build a better New Jersey and a better America for our children and grandchildren,” said Lautenberg, 89.
“When I first ran for the Senate, my pledge was to always put the people of New Jersey first. Putting New Jersey first is the principle that has guided my every action—from building up our transportation network to making our environment healthier and our communities safer and more secure,” Lautenberg added. “I will continue to be guided by this principle and will keep working with President Obama and my colleagues in Congress for Garden State families.”
Lautenberg announced his goals for the 113th Congress, which include:
- Passing gun safety legislation to ban high-capacity magazines, close the gun show loophole and prevent known and suspected terrorists from buying guns;
- Reforming America’s broken chemical laws and protecting children by passing the Safe Chemicals Act;
- Modernizing infrastructure to create jobs, boost the economy, reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality;
- Helping the state of New Jersey, communities, families and businesses utilize federal resources to rebuild after Superstorm Sandy; and
- Chairing the Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee to ensure that Main Street – not just Wall Street-prospers.
Lautenberg was born the son of immigrants and grew up in Paterson. He enlisted in the military at the age of 18 and served in the Army in Europe during World War II. Upon returning home, he graduated from Columbia University with the help of the G.I. Bill. He joined with two boyhood friends to found Automatic Data Processing (ADP), which today employees 57,000 people worldwide and 4,500 in New Jersey.
Lautenberg began his five-term Senate career in 1982. Today, he is the last World War II veteran serving in the U.S. Senate and holds the record for the number of votes cast by a New Jersey senator. He 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. He was also the first U.S. senator to introduce legislation calling for homeland security funds to be distributed solely on the basis of risk and vulnerability.
Rep. Frank Pallone released a statement yesterday 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, and several other contenders are also believed to be considering a run.
“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.”
“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) in a statement yesterday. “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) via statement. “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, in a statement Thursday. “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.”
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