Modia Butler, chief of staff to Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker (D), has no interest in firing back at Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), telling TPM on Thursday that the mayor's camp has "nothing but respect for the senior senator."
“We’re cognizant of the remarks that the senior senator in New Jersey has made over the last couple of months," Butler said. "But we just stay focused on the job that we have to do on a day to day basis here in Newark, and that’s governing the largest city in New Jersey."
Booker announced in December that he would explore a run in next year's U.S. Senate race, while Lautenberg has yet to finalize his future plans. There's been no shortage of hostility toward Booker from the incumbent's camp, with a Lautenberg aide saying last month that the mayor is "self-absorbed and disrespectful." In a New York Times profile published this week, Lautenberg said Booker's announcement won the senator "a lot of friends."
But Butler said Lautenberg has actually been helpful to Booker's efforts in Newark, adding that both men have a decision to make on next year's race.
“In some respects, the senior senator has been helpful in our agenda, especially on the legislative level," Butler said. "We have nothing but respect for him. You know, he ultimately is going to make a decision whether he runs or not. And while we govern, we’re exploring the opportunity to whether we’re going to run or not.”
Butler reiterated, “We have nothing but respect for the senior senator.”