There was no love lost between the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Cory Booker before the New Jersey senator’s death–and Lautenberg’s family hasn’t forgotten.
In a not-so-veiled attack against the frontrunner Booker–and his premature moves that irked Launtenberg before he decided to retire – Lautenberg’s family is throwing its weight behind Rep. Frank Pallone’s campaign ahead of the Aug. 13 Democratic primary for the late senator’s seat.
“Frank Lautenberg followed three fundamental principles as New Jersey’s U.S. Senator: stay true to his progressive values, put New Jersey first, and be a workhorse, not a showhorse,” the family said in a statement, an apparent reference to rising Democratic star Booker.
“Deciding which candidate to endorse was not an easy decision. Most of the candidates in the Democratic field have proven themselves as hardworking, progressive leaders who care deeply about New Jersey. But only one of them stands out as ready to continue Frank Lautenberg’s progressive leadership in the U.S. Senate. That candidate is Congressman Frank Pallone. We are saying: Stick with Frank.”
The family’s statement continues:
“Frank Pallone knows that gimmicks and celebrity status won’t get you very far in the real battles that Democrats face in the future. Frank Pallone worked with Frank Lautenberg for many years. He understands what it takes to take on and defeat Republicans and the special interests that attack the well being of working families. While it may not always attract glamorous headlines, Frank knows that to be effective you must put New Jersey and your principles first, not your own glory.”
Booker has also been criticized for his close relationship with Republican Gov. Chris Christie, and Lautenberg’s family notes that New Jersey Democrats “may be surprised to find out that not all of them share core Democratic values or loyalty to the party.”
Pallone, a 25-year lawmaker who has more than $3.7 million in his campaign account, trails the popular Booker in the shortened primary campaign.
A Quinnipiac University poll from last month showed Booker with a wide lead over Pallone and Rep. Rush Holt, who’s creatively played up his background as a rocket scientist to try to distinguish himself. New Jersey Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver is also running.
The winner of the August primary will advance to an October 16 special general election.