US Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ) dead at 89

US Senator Frank Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, has died at 89, AP and multiple news sources are reporting.


GOP Governor Chris Christie will appoint his replacement until the next election, which according to state law appears to be either November, 2013 or earlier if Christie asks for it.  The person who wins that election will serve until the next planned general election, November, 2014. Here’s the relevant New Jersey law:

New Jersey Statutes, Title: 19, ELECTIONS

Chapter 3: Public offices, party offices and public questions classified

Section: 19:3-26: Vacancies in United States senate; election to
fill; temporary appointment by governor.

19:3-26. If a vacancy shall happen in the representation of this State in the United States senate, it shall be filled at the general election next succeeding the happening thereof, unless such vacancy shall happen within 70 days next preceding such election, in which case it shall be filled by election at the second succeeding general election, unless the governor of this State shall deem it advisable to call a special election therefor, which he is authorized hereby to do.

The governor of this State may make a temporary appointment of a senator of the United States from this State whenever a vacancy shall occur by reason of any cause other than the expiration of the term; and such appointee shall serve as such senator until a special election or general election shall have been held pursuant to law and the Board of State Canvassers can deliver to his successor a certificate of election.

The balance of power in the Senate was 53 Democrats, 2 Independents (who caucus with Dems), and 45 Republicans. Now it’s 52 Democrats.

The Wash Post’s Sean Sullivan considers the implications of Christie appointing a Democrat:

Of course, it’s possible — though less likely — that Christie would appoint a Democrat to the seat. He is campaigning as a bipartisan governor in a very blue state, after all. Tapping a Democrat would be seen as a major stroke of bipartisanship. Replacing a Democrat with a Democrat and then saying the voters should decide what happens next in November would no doubt be very well-received by Democrats and moderates.

But such a move would be politically perilous for Christie when it comes to his own party. It would run the risk of angering Republicans, the last thing Christie needs if he has any designs on running for president in 2016. He has already stoked some concern among conservatives by embracing President Obama in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

More updates via Twitter, including Senator Lautenberg’s accomplishments in the Senate, which include banning smoking on airplanes:


lautenberg-smoking lautenberg-aids lautenberg-4


lautenbergLautenberg’s office has just issued a statement:


WASHINGTON, D.C.—United States Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, the last remaining World War II veteran serving in the Senate, passed away due to complications from viral pneumonia at 4:02 a.m. today at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell. He was 89 years old.

Senator Lautenberg is survived by his wife, Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg; six children and their spouses, Ellen Lautenberg and Doug Hendel, Nan and Joe Morgart, Josh and Christina Lautenberg, Lisa and Doug Birer, Danielle Englebardt and Stuart Katzoff, Lara Englebardt Metz and Corey Metz; and 13 grandchildren.

Senator Lautenberg was a long-time leader on environmental protection, transportation and protecting public health. His career highlights include:

Passing the law that banned smoking on airplanes;
Authoring the law that prevented domestic abusers from possessing guns;
Writing landmark drunk driving laws, including the nationwide .08 blood alcohol standard and the 21 year drinking age law;
Co-writing the new GI Bill for the 21st Century;
Authoring the “Toxic Right to Know” law to empower the public to know what pollutants are being released into their neighborhood; and
Writing the law to create the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park.

After Senator Lautenberg cast his 9,000th vote in December 2011, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proclaimed on the Senate floor, “Frank Lautenberg has been one of the most productive senators in the history of this country.”

On February 15, Senator Lautenberg announced he would not seek a sixth term in the Senate. At his announcement in his hometown of Paterson, he set out an agenda for the remaining two years of his term that included reforming U.S. chemical safety laws, improving gun safety laws, and providing federal resources for New Jersey to rebuild from Superstorm Sandy.

Senator Lautenberg had made significant progress on all three items, most recently by announcing a bipartisan breakthrough on modernizing the Toxic Substances Control Act. Lautenberg’s legislation to ban high-capacity ammunition magazines also received a vote in the Senate earlier this year.

Senator Lautenberg was born the son of immigrants and grew up poor in Paterson, New Jersey. He enlisted in the military at the age of 18 and served in the Army in Europe during World War II. Upon returning home, he graduated from Columbia University with the help of the G.I. Bill. He joined with two boyhood friends to found Automatic Data Processing (ADP), which today employees 57,000 people worldwide and 4,500 in New Jersey. He left the business world to pursue a career in public service and give back to the country that helped give him so much.

Sen. Lautenberg was the last World War II veteran serving in the U.S. Senate and held the record for the number of votes cast by a New Jersey Senator.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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10 Responses to “US Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ) dead at 89”

  1. MyrddinWilt says:

    It may make a difference in NJ.

    Christie has to decide whether he is serious about a Presidential bid or getting re-elected as Governor. If he appoints a Dem his Presidential hopes are deader than dead. If he appoints a Republican he might just snap that Sandy halo he has been wearing.

    The net is that, the GOP may well be out a governor. Christie would have to be certifiably insane to think he can win the 2016 nomination. It just won’t be his year. He can at best run a quixotic campaign against the crazy and lose badly. The one thing that a Democrat could use to topple Christie would be the idea that he is going to be AWOL for his entire term pandering to the right of the GOP to win the presidential nomination.

    If Christie appoints a Dem then he is finished in the GOP. He would be cast out into the darkness. But right now he is bigger than his party in NJ. Like Bloomberg he wins despite being a Republican in the general election.

    So the best choice for Christie politically would be to announce he is not running for President in 2016 and bolt the GOP as soon as he can. Then at the end of his term as Governor (or before if he wanted it) he has an easy path into the cabinet as a bipartisan politician.

  2. AristarchusSeleucus says:

    A neocon has gone on to the great beyond . . .

    Does anyone suppose that ANOTHER neocon can be found in New Jersey to replace him ?
    The political party doesn’t matter . . . neocon = necoon.

  3. BeccaM says:

    BTW, even though Lautenberg was far from perfect — he voted for DOMA after all, and flirted with abstinence-based sex ed, and was a ‘Free Trade’ supporter — his passing is definitely a net loss for progressive causes.

  4. BeccaM says:

    Regardless whether Christie appoints a R or D (I personally think the latter is unlikely, because unlike Dems, Reps almost never do the bi-partisanship dance), it won’t make any particular difference in the Senate.

    Even when the Dems briefly had 60 votes, they still didn’t have 60 votes due to Blue Dog and DINO betrayers. And since Harry Reid and the Senate Dem leadership refuse to do anything about the filibuster, the GOP minority still has all their hostages and will continue to dictate policy. And when they don’t, we’ll continue get DNC neo-liberalist policies anyway.

    I’m increasingly disillusioned with our failed system of government. I mean, we get all worked up about some Senate vote — and fail to acknowledge that whatever’s being proposed has a snowball’s chance in Hell of passing the GOP-led House.

  5. Naja pallida says:

    Considering how much his own party has turned on him just for working with Obama on Hurricane reconstruction, that in itself may be all the cover he needs to appoint anyone he wants. I guess it just depends on whether he really is that guy who wants to do what is best for his state, or if he’s just the partisan most of us on the left think he is.

  6. Jimmy says:

    I don’t see how Christie can get away with appointing a Dem. His party would truly turn against him. They already have problems with him for not pulling a Jan Brewer when the President visited his state…twice. I could never vote for Christie, but I do have to give him some credit for being a bat-shit loon like too many in his party (again, see Jan Brewer).

  7. S1AMER says:

    Oh, yes indeed. I remember as a kid that even candidates for local offic (road commissioner, country treasurer, things like that) always mentioned their veteran status in adds and on hand bills.

    And people already in office, unless they were doddering old men who’s served in the Great War, made damned sure they spent at least a little time in uniform. LDJ is a prime case: He, and others in Congress, enlisted quickly after Pearl Harbor Day, went off to cushy billets (though some saw serious service), and made sure to get pictures of themselves in uniform published in all the papers back home. In fact, so many members of Congress were on leave from the House and off in uniform that it became necessary to prod them to either resign their seats or resign their commissions (most avoided the lower ranks, of course) and get back to work.

  8. confusion says:

    Too bad Obama can’t replace sen Lautenberg…he would choose Christie.

  9. Oh that’s interesting, didn’t realize it was a quasi-requirement.

  10. S1AMER says:

    He was the last WWII vet in the Senate. I remember, back in the 1950s and 1960s, when no man had a prayer of getting elected to any office unless he’d served in that war. Now they’re almost all gone.

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