New Jersey: Lautenberg Officially Launches Re-election Bid

Posted March 31, 2008 at 6:49pm

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) officially announced his intent to stay in the Senate through his 90th birthday at a rally with top Garden State Democrats in Trenton on Monday.

“I am running for re-election to the Senate to bring … change and to build on my achievements of the last few years to continue to deliver for our state,” Lautenberg said in a statement Monday afternoon.

But the 84-year-old Senator will not have a free pass in his party’s primary this summer. Morristown Mayor Donald Cresitello has said he intends to challenge Lautenberg.

The state’s filing deadline is Monday.

Meanwhile, the Republican field in the Senate race continues to be in flux.

After wealthy real estate developer Anne Evans Estabrook (R) dropped her bid last month, another wealthy business executive, Andrew Unanue, said last week that he would seek the GOP nomination. Although Unanue has begun to pick up the endorsement of some county Republican organizations, his campaign got off to a rocky start from a public relations perspective.

GOP opponent Murray Sabrin has knocked Unanue for living in New York City since 2004, and some local newspapers have painted him as just another Manhattan playboy because of his ownership of a trendy club in the city. Publicity over an old family feud that eventually prompted Unanue to leave the family business has not helped the new candidate’s cause.

State Assemblyman Joe Pennacchio also is seeking the GOP nomination and is picking up support in several county conventions.

Although some early polling has shown that many voters worry about Lautenberg’s advancing age, any Republican challenger faces an uphill battle against such a well-known Democratic commodity in the blue state of New Jersey.

On Monday, Lautenberg spokesman Scott Mulhauser said, “The question is not one of age but effectiveness, and nobody is more effective in delivering for New Jersey’s working families than Frank Lautenberg.”
— John McArdle