Mayor Corey Booker’s Senate Run Basically Falls on Lautenberg’s Retirement


All eyes are on Corey Booker. Three weeks ago, we reported on the mayor’s announcement that he would consider running for the New Jersey Senate in 2014. And, following suit, BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith argued that the mayor and Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick were destined to battle it out for Barack Obama’s presidential throne in 2016. Speculation has already planned out the next three years of this guy’s political career. Ugh.

However, Booker might be stepping into charted territory. Frank Lautenberg, the current senator, has held down the office since 2003 after leaving it for a few years. Beforehand, he was first elected senator in 1982. He’s good friends with Senator Chuck Schumer and, because of his large chunk of time in office, a well-known face in the Democratic Party. Next year, if he decides to run for re-election, he’ll be 90 years old.
That decision might make or break Mayor Corey Booker’s fate.
Yesterday, on CNN’s Starting Point, Booker explained why he’s hesitant about Lautenberg’s future intentions: “I want to give him space to make his own decision. I’ve announced my intention to run, but the reality is . . . we’ve got a good senator. He’s been loyal. He’s been here for a long time. And I think he’s got a decision to make.”
And Lautenberg has been sending mixed signals. At the end of last year, his staffers told reporters that “retirement is the last thing on his mind.” Yet the day after Booker announced his intention to run for Senate, a Lautenberg spokesperson released a statement that the politician will not be making a retirement decision until the new year. ‘Tis that time, and we still have heard nada.
However, Booker did not say whether he’ll still run if Lautenberg seeks an umpteenth term on the Hill. Sure, he has the base, the ladles of media aspirations, the young charm, the attractive Twitter and all of that good, fun-for-millennials stuff, but the Senate thrives off incumbency. With a six-year term, it’s much harder to usurp, no matter how many food stamp challenges you incur. So, at this point, he’s just holding his breath for a bit.
Disclaimer: A Lautenberg/Booker primary match-up would be a sight to see.