Lautenberg to Booker: Finish your job in Newark

Holly Bailey
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New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s announcement on Thursday that he won’t seek re-election next year was widely interpreted as a boon for Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker’s bid for the Senate.

But Lautenberg isn’t simply ceding the race to Booker, whom he’s criticized for jumping into the race too soon. According to the Wall Street Journal’s Kristina Paterson, the outgoing New Jersey senator got a little bit testy when asked if the threat of a Democratic primary challenge from Booker figured in his decision not to seek re-election. And Lautenberg offered a bit of unsolicited advice to the ambitious Democratic mayor.

“I’d encourage him to finish the job that has to be done in Newark. We still have a lot of violence, still have a lot of inconvenience,” Lautenberg told reporters on Thursday night, just hours after he announced he wouldn’t seek a sixth term. “My office is in a building across from Penn Station there. If I try to leave the building at 6 o’clock at night, sometimes it takes 20 minutes to get out of the parking lot.”

While Booker released a statement praising Lautenberg as a “champion of the people,” Lautenberg said he hadn’t heard from Booker personally.

“He doesn’t have my number,” the senator joked.