In a statement provided to TPM on Thursday, Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker (D) praised Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), who announced earlier in the day that he would not seek re-election next year.
Booker said Lautenberg was a "strong model of leadership and service" to him even before he entered public office.
Senator Frank Lautenberg has been a champion for the people of New Jersey for decades and his legacy of service will improve the lives of all American's for years to come.
Here in Newark, his tireless advocacy and numerous contributions have helped our city endure difficult days and are now fueling our turn toward growth, promise and endless possibility. Newarkers know, from our airport and the roads we drive on to our schools and services for our seniors, Frank Lautenberg has helped empower people and strengthen our city.
On a personal note, Senator Lautenberg has been a strong model of leadership and service to me since before I even considered entering elected office. Since I have been mayor, he has been an invaluable partner in so many of Newark's recent accomplishments and successes. I look forward to continuing to work with him for the remainder of his term in the senate and for many years to come.
Booker's announcement in December that he would explore a run for Lautenberg's seat in 2014 clearly miffed the incumbent, who hadn't yet disclosed his plans at the time. An aide to Lautenberg slammed Booker last month, calling him "self-absorbed and disrespectful." In a profile published this week in the New York Times, Lautenberg said that Booker's announcement won him "a lot of friends" and argued that the mayor should spend more time in Newark. Modia Butler, Booker's chief of staff, declined to respond to Lautenberg's latest missive, telling TPM in an interview Thursday that Booker has "nothing but respect for the senior senator."
Polls conducted after Booker's announcement all indicated that he was the overwhelming choice of New Jersey Democrats to serve as the party's nominee in next year's race instead of the 89-year-old Lautenberg.