Senator Frank Lautenberg Dies, Special Election Likely in November

Chris Christie expected to appoint a replacement


on a bus
Talk Radio News Service/Foter.com

New Jersey's Senator Frank Lautenberg, the oldest member of the legislative body and its last World War 2 veteran, died today at 89. The Democrat was first elected to the Senate in 1982 after spending three decades as CEO of Automatic Data Processing. He retired from the Senate in 2000 (and was succeeded by Jon Corzine) but ran again for the other Senate seat in 2002 as a last-minute replacement for the scandal-ridden Robert Torricelli, becoming the junior senator until Jon Corzine left the Senate to assume the governorship of New Jersey in 2005. Lautenberg had been ill most of the year, and missed several votes before coming back to vote on gun control in April. The aggressive gun control advocate was last toying with the idea of requiring background checks for gunpowder.

Last year, Governor Chris Christie (who beat Corzine in 2009) called Lautenberg an "embarrassment to the state" for his questioning of a port authority official in a Senate hearing about toll increases. As a former port authority commissioner, Lautenberg didn't have to pay the tolls. Lautenberg finally decided not to run for re-election in 2014 in February, a month after Newark mayor Cory Booker filed to run in the Democratic primary.  Booker, a Democrat, was previously considered a potential challenger to Chris Christie later this year. Christie, a Republican, is now expected to appoint a replacement, who will have to run for the remainder of the term in a special election concurrent to the gubernatorial election this November.