New Jersey's Daily Record is reporting that the state's senior senator, Frank Lautenberg, a Democrat, has died at age 89.
The oldest member of the Senate, Lautenberg had struggled with health problems since late last year, when he missed several weeks of votes because of what he said was flu and bronchitis.
The death of Lautenberg, a Democrat who was the longest-serving senator in New Jersey history, creates a vacancy that Governor Christie, a Republican, will fill.
The report was not confirmed by a spokesman from the Senator's office, though it has been echoed by other sources.
Lautenberg, a native of Paterson, was first elected to the Senate in 1982, replacing a senator who resigned following his involvement in a FBI bribery sting. Lautenberg retired from the body in 2000, at age 76 — but was reelected in 2002 to replace a senator who was resigning, again due to corruption charges.
Earlier this year, Lautenberg announced that he did not plan to seek a sixth term. The move was generally interpreted as clearing the path for another Democrat, possibly popular Newark mayor Cory Booker. If reports of Lautenberg's death are accurate, that path becomes trickier. Governor Chris Christie is likely to appoint a Republican to the seat.