Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., won’t run for reelection next year. He is 89 and would have been 90 at the time of his reelection to another six-year term.
“I will be traveling to my hometown of Paterson tomorrow to announce that I will not seek re-election in 2014,” Lautenberg said in a statement today. “This is not the end of anything, but rather the beginning of a two-year mission to pass new gun safety laws, protect children from toxic chemicals, and create more opportunities for working families in New Jersey. While I may not be seeking re-election, there is plenty of work to do before the end of this term and I’m going to keep fighting as hard as ever for the people of New Jersey in the U.S. Senate.”
Lautenberg has been quite colorful in describing the motivations of his would-be primary challenger, Newark Mayor Cory Booker. But this announcement leaves Booker with the inside track to the Democratic nomination in 2014.
It also marks the end of an era in Senate and American history.
With the death of Sen. Daniel Inouye earlier this year, Lautenberg is the last World War II veteran in the Senate.
There was a time when service in that war was almost a pre-requisite for Congress. Many who served in the war are now familiar historical figures including John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Barry Goldwater, Hubert Humphrey, Robert Dole.
According to the list of WWII vets from the Senate website, there were 115. With a much smaller U.S. military and a volunteer service in place today it is hard to imagine there will ever be such a concentration of veterans. Few Vietnam veterans beyond Sen. John McCain remain in the senate, for instance.
Read More: Sen. Daniel Inouye