The North Jersey Record reports this morning that Senator Frank Lautenberg has passed away at 89 years old. Other news agencies are reporting the same, but so far all seem to be based on the Record’s report:
Sne. Frank Lautenberg died this morning of viral pneumonia at age 89, his office said.
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.
I’m still awaiting confirmation, since we had a hoax almost three years ago about Lautenberg. The NJ Record is a pretty reliable source, though, and we should be seeing more information shortly. (No one answered at the Senator’s office when I tried to get confirmation.)
Our prayers are with the Lautenberg family, friends, and staff at this time. Keep checking back for updates.
Update: Frank Lautenberg was the last of the WWII veterans in the US Senate:
Lautenberg death brings to an end the service of WWII veterans in the US Senate
— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) June 3, 2013
RIP, Technician Fifth Grade, Frank Lautenberg. 3185th Signal Service Battalion
— Sean Agnew (@seanagnew) June 3, 2013
Update: More confirmation from other news sources:
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey, has died at 89, two sources tell CNN.
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) June 3, 2013
CONFIRMED: NJ Senator Frank Lautenberg has died at age 89 – @NBCNewYork
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 3, 2013
BREAKING: Democratic aide: New Jersey Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg dies at 89.
— The Associated Press (@AP) June 3, 2013
Lautenberg leaves behind his wife, 6 children and 13 grandchildren. He was the last WWII veteran serving in the Senate.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) June 3, 2013
Update: Christie will have to appoint a temporary successor to Lautenberg, and that will have plenty of people jockeying for position. Lautenberg had already decided not to seek re-election in 2014, and Cory Booker looks like a shoo-in at the moment for the job. Now, though, a Republican interim appointee could gain some traction by being in place for at least a short while, if Christie chooses someone likely to run for the 2014 nomination.
According to the law in New Jersey, the appointee won’t be there for long:
19:3-26. Vacancies in United States senate; election to fill; temporary appointment by governor.
19:3-26. If a vacancy shall happen in the representation of this State in the United States senate, it shall be filled at the general election next succeeding the happening thereof, unless such vacancy shall happen within 70 days next preceding such election, in which case it shall be filled by election at the second succeeding general election, unless the governor of this State shall deem it advisable to call a special election therefor, which he is authorized hereby to do.
The governor of this State may make a temporary appointment of a senator of the United States from this State whenever a vacancy shall occur by reason of any cause other than the expiration of the term; and such appointee shall serve as such senator until a special election or general election shall have been held pursuant to law and the Board of State Canvassers can deliver to his successor a certificate of election.
In most states, the next general election would be in 2014, but not in New Jersey. The state will hold elections for its other statewide constitutional positions this November, which means that it will also be when the special election takes place to fill the remainder of Lautenberg’s seat. Booker will almost certainly run for the spot, and presumably so will Christie’s appointee, which could make this a 2014 preview.