Launtenberg had been fighting pneumonia for months and, in fact, his office had to beat back any number of rounds of rumors that Lautenberg had died. He was until late in 2012 actively teasing a run for reelection and he bristled when Cory Booker, the Newark Mayor entered into a Democratic primary. Lautenberg ultimately decided not to seek reelection, but never soft spoken, he made his displeasure with Booker clearly known. It was Lautenberg's turf, after all.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will now have to appoint a successor to Lautenberg. Christie is a Republican and Lautenberg was a Democrat, although governors usually appoint a member of their own party. If Christie, who faces his own reelection later in 2013, appoints a Republican, it could create a more formidable opponent for Booker in the 2014 senate race.
After Lautenberg cast his 9,000th vote in December 2011, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proclaimed on the Senate floor, "Frank Lautenberg has been one of the most productive senators in the history of this country."