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Tom Murse

Cory Booker Isn't Nudging Frank Lautenberg Out the Door, Is He?

By January 7, 2013

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Cory Booker wouldn't do that. He wouldn't suggest, before a national audience, that veteran U.S. Sen. and fellow Democrat Frank Lautenberg should step aside after 28 years in office so that he himself could run for the seat.

Right? Nah. No way. Wouldn't happen. So why did it seem like one of the nation's most visible mayors was ever-so-gently nudging the 88-year-old lawmaker into retirement?

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Booker, the mayor of Newark, has said he is exploring a run for U.S. Senate in 2014, bypassing what would have been a blockbuster campaign against popular New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is seeking re-election next year. But the seat that's up for election next year is that held by Lautenberg.

So either Lautenberg is going to retire or ... well ... yeah. Booker will try to unseat him in the primary. At least that's what it sounded like when Booker talked to CNN this week.

"I want to give him the space to make his own decision," Booker said. "I've announced my intention to run, but the reality is - is we've got a good Senator. He's been loyal. He's been there for a long time. And I think that he's got a decision to make."

"So, I'm focusing on my job for now. And I hope to talk to him. We've reached out to him a number of times. In fact, I had a plane trip going down to meet with him, but unfortunately with a lot of the challenges going down in Washington, he had to cancel the meeting."

Oh, sure. The mayor made it a point to also say that he has "deep respect and love" for the senator. But make no mistake: Those were fighting words from Booker.

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[Photo of Newark Mayor Cory Booker/Getty Images]

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