Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D)
Quinnipiac University polled New Jersey voters including a subset of self-identified Democratic primary participants (Jan. 15-21; 1,647 registered New Jersey voters; 616 Democratic primary voters), questioning them about a proposed nomination battle between Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Newark Mayor Cory Booker. So far, Booker has said he will defer to the elder senator, but has also made it clear that he wants to run for the Senate in 2014. Lautenberg is expected to retire, and numbers such as the ones Quinnipiac produced should hasten his departure.
According to the data, Booker would defeat Lautenberg 51-30 percent if the statewide Democratic primary were held in this current time period. Perhaps even more troubling for the senator is the fact that he trails Booker by more than 20 points even though his job approval is positive. Concerns about his age — Lautenberg will be 90 at the time of the next election – are clearly weighing upon the electorate.
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Fairleigh Dickinson University, whose poll (Jan. 2-6; 700 registered New Jersey voters; 336 self-identified Democrats or leaning Democratic) we quoted earlier in the week pertaining to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s re-election, now releases the US Senate portion of their data. For veteran Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D), the news can either be taken as being a bitter pill or simply a wake-up call.
Lautenberg, who will be 90 years of age at the next election, came from the business world where he was the chairman and CEO of Automatic Data Processing, Inc. In 1982, using his vast personal wealth earned through years of having a major position within the company, Lautenberg ran for his first political office, that of United States Senate. He scored a 51-48 percent win over the better-known Rep. Millicent Fenwick (R-NJ-5), at the time a 72-year-old four-term congresswoman who was often seen smoking her trademark pipe. Lautenberg was easily re-elected twice, but then decided to retire from politics in 2000.
Less than two years later, when Sen. Bob Torricelli (D) met with scandal and appeared headed for defeat, the New Jersey Democratic leadership forced him to resign well after the 2002 primary. Armed with a favorable political ruling from a Democratic state Supreme Court, the party leaders successfully installed Lautenberg to replace Torricelli. He went on to save the seat for the Democrats that year, and was re-elected without significant challenge in 2008.
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