The oldest member of the U.S. Senate, 89-year-old Democrat Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey, has announced his retirement after 2014. His decision not to seek re-election means he'll avoid what could have been a marquee primary showdown with Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
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"While I will not stand for re-election in 2014, I will continue working for the next two years to build a better New Jersey and a better America for our children and grandchildren," Lautenberg said in a written statement.
The senator's announcement follows a brief dustup with Booker, who appeared to suggest Lautenberg ought to retire or face a possible defeat at the hands of Democratic voters.
"I want to give him the space to make his own decision," Booker said earlier this year. "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."
Lautenberg's decision clears the path for Booker to be the Democratic U.S. Senate nominee after he mayor bypassed what would have been a blockbuster campaign against popular†New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is†seeking re-election this year.
Booker is now playing nice.
"Senator Frank Lautenberg has been a champion for the people of New Jersey for decades," †Booker said in a written statement, "and his legacy of service will improve the lives of all American's for years to come."