We still don’t know if Jersey’s senior U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg will seek another term next year, but one man who wants his job is reminding everyone that as Lautenberg approaches his 89th birthday later this month, the Senator “has a decision to make.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker has been nothing but complimentary to Lautenberg so far, but many political science experts think he’s following a carefully laid out strategy.
Booker told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien he has tried unsuccessfully to arrange a meeting with Lautenberg.
Krista Jenkins, the Executive Director of the FDU PublicMind poll, says Booker’s “decision” comment was made “not only to get Lautenberg to ponder the situation, but also, he’s trying to get support if he winds up challenging the incumbent Senator because, obviously, the more party faithful he has behind his run for the nomination, the better off it is for him in the long run.”
She says this all may be worked out behind closed doors, or it could come down to a primary fight, because “with New Jersey you always can’t write off some degree of ugliness in any kind of partisan contest so I wouldn’t say that’s unlikely…Time will tell – it’s in Senator Lautenberg’s court as to when he’ll reveal what his decision is as he moves forward.”
Jenkins adds, “Cory Booker needs to be strategic, and I think if you look at his political history, he has shown himself to be a very strategic politician…the fact that Lautenberg is turning 89 could be a factor in how this plays out…the data so far suggests his age could potentially be a liability for him as he moves forward.”
Dr. Brigid Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University agrees, but she points out, “Frank Lautenberg, despite his advanced age still remains a very feisty politician, and number two, you also are making that statement in front of an electorate that has a significant number of senior citizen voters – you don’t want to alienate those voters by saying I’m the heir apparent here and I’d like to be in the U.S. Senate.”
Harrison believes there will be gentle prodding, behind the scenes – to have Lautenberg not run – by staff, family and within democratic party circles, because “they don’t want Senator Lautenberg to run and lose – that’s the worst-case scenario.”
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