Just after a new Quinnipiac University survey (Jan. 15-21; 1,647 registered New Jersey voters; 616 Democratic primary voters) gave Newark Mayor Cory Booker a 51-30 percent lead over Sen. Frank Lautenberg in a hypothetical Democratic primary pairing, an awakening incumbent struck back. The senator, who most believe will retire rather than face what appears will be a very divisive party primary against Booker, responded to the mayor’s semi-offensive in a key interview.
Speaking with a National Journal reporter, Lautenberg said of Booker, “He’s got a lot of work to do — a lot of work that should have been done and hasn’t been done [with reference to solving the city of Newark’s problems]. The senator went onto say that Newark is a “city in desperate need of attention.” He further said that “maybe if the mayor can solidify the fact that he wants to improve Newark by being there, things would be different. But he’s free to do as he wants to do.”
Lautenberg will be 90 years old before the next election, which polling shows is a decided negative among all voter segments. Booker has said both that he does not want to challenge Lautenberg, but has the desire to run for the Senate, and in 2014.
The early sparring suggests that this would be a divisive primary if it were to occur, but the most likely course of action still points to Lautenberg, perhaps reluctantly, deciding to retire.