“Lautenberg is a natural fighter. It’s very likely he’ll run in the primary and against anyone else who might challenge him,” according to Giambusso.
“Senator Lautenberg is a very proud man and powerful,” noted Moran.
So why is Booker looking to become a junior senator from New Jersey seeking one of 100 senate seats instead of running for the acknowledged more powerful office of the New Jersey governor?
“Christie’s pollings are through the roof,” Giambusso admitted. There might be a “pathway to beat Christie but it’s become more and more difficult in recent months.”
Hurricane Sandy shifted the political sands as well as those along the Jersey coast. “It’s a safer move. I think it’s a smart move on his (Booker’s) part,” added Giambusso, who also cautioned that, “Lautenberg has shown himself not to kowtow to anyone.”
“He’ll (Lautenberg) be 90 years old if he’s re-elected,” Moran stated. “The governor appoints a replacement should his seat become vacant and with today’s announcement that is likely to be Christie.”
Melissa Hayes, filing from New Jersey’s The Records State House Bureau, speculates that Lautenberg may not be running in 2013, but admits there’s nothing at this time out of the senator’s camp to suggest that. And she points out that Christie had very high ratings even before the storm.
When asked what is next after Booker’s announcement: “It’s kind of a waiting game at this point. Everyone’s waiting to see what Lautenberg’s going to do. It could cause a lot of friction in the party if Lautenberg doesn’t go gracefully.”
But while speculation has gone well beyond the state’s borders, locally elected officials and party bosses are measuring where Booker’s announcement leaves them.
Democratic State Chairman John Wisniewski soberly admitted to Giambusso that “it would have lifted boats for democrats next year” if Booker had taken on Christie.
The Passiac County Democratic Chair, John Currie, also expressed his disappointment after disclosing that Booker called him to “let him know he would run for Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s seat.”
Still, he said he “respects [Booker’s] decision.”
“A lot of people are disappointed today,” Moran concluded. “If you’re a democrat, Booker would have been a significant player. And he’s still going to be a significant player,” Moran says, adding a personal observation “In his heart of hearts, [Booker] wanted to run for governor. It’s an executive position and he’s attracted to that. And, most players in New Jersey regard the governor as more powerful than a senator. Still, he’s going to be a significant player.”