Sen. Frank Lautenberg is retiring, but that doesn’t mean Newark Mayor Cory Booker is getting a free ride to the Democratic Senate nomination in New Jersey. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., told National Journal Thursday that he’s still exploring a run for the Senate.
If Pallone entered the race, it would make for a competitive primary, between the long-serving Congressman, who has long eyed statewide office, and one of the Democratic party's brighter up-and-coming recruits. Pallone has eyed running for statewide office in the past, before backing down. He doesn't sound likely to do that again.
“I’ve always been interested in the Senate and I will continue to explore it, but today is the senator’s day,” Pallone said. Pallone went on to praise Lautenberg’s record on transportation, mass transit infrastructure, environmental and consumer issues.
“If he believed in the cause, he was going to fight to the end. He never hesitates to say how he feels and to be honest about what should be done in Congress,” Pallone said.
But the ground has shifted in New Jersey after Lautenberg’s announcement today. “His deciding not to run changes the political landscape because now there’s an open seat, and I’ve always been interested in the Senate,” Pallone said, declining to comment further on his future plans.