New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., announced Thursday that he will not seek re-election in 2014, opening the door for Newark Mayor Cory Booker to run for the seat.
The 89-year-old Lautenberg is the oldest member of the Senate and the last U.S. military veteran of World War II serving in the chamber.
"This is not the end of anything, but rather the beginning of a two-year mission to pass new gun safety laws, protect children from toxic chemicals, and create more opportunities for working families in New Jersey," Lautenberg said in a statement.
He added, "While I may not be seeking re-election, there is plenty of work to do before the end of this term and I'm going to keep fighting as hard as ever for the people of New Jersey in the U.S. Senate."
President Barack Obama released a statement praising Lautenberg's tenure in the Senate, calling him a steadfast champion of the people of New Jersey.
"Throughout his time in the Senate, Frank has fought tirelessly for workers, veterans, members of our military and their families, and immigrants, and he continues to make extraordinary contributions to our nation's safety, and the health and welfare of our citizens," Obama said.
He added, "I look forward to working with Frank on critical issues before us these next two years, and Michelle and I wish him and Bonnie all the best."
Booker, who previously indicated that he was exploring the possibility of running for the Senate, is seen as the early favorite to replace Lautenberg.
A Quinnipiac University poll released last month showed Booker with a 51 percent to 30 percent lead over Lautenberg in a potential Democratic Senate primary.
While Lautenberg had a positive approval rating, 71 percent of New Jersey voters said the five-term Senator's age makes it too difficult for him to do the work required.
by RTT Staff Writer
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