Lautenberg: Booker Senate Bid Merits 'Spanking'

J. Scott Applewhite/AP, Chip Somodevilla/Getty

The dance around the New Jersey U.S. Senate seat continued this week with Sen. Frank Lautenberg saying Newark Mayor Cory Booker is "entitled" to challenge the 89-year-old for his seat, but he may have to get a "spanking" for being "disrespectful."

Lautenberg won't say if he intends on running for another term, but that didn't stop the 43-year-old mayor of Newark from a nnouncing his intentions last month, much to the disappointment of New Jersey Democrats who thought he would take on Republican Chris Christie for the New Jersey governorship.

"I have four children," Lautenberg told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I love each one of them. I can't tell you that one of them wasn't occasionally disrespectful, so I gave them a spanking and everything was OK."

Lautenberg turned 89 just yesterday, but wouldn't tell the newspaper, in the first interview since Booker announced his intentions, if he will seek another six year term next year.

"I've got a lot of work to do yet, serious things and we pride ourselves (in) my office and my team (on) getting things done. That's the focus. I'm not thinking about the politics right now," Lautenberg said.

He also told the paper that Booker is "entitled" to take him on, but he's not a shoo-in, saying there are others who may also want the Senate seat. One of those possibilities is Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone who has expressed interest in running, but hasn't made an announcement.

"He'll have to stand on his record and I'm sure he won't be a lone soldier out there drooling at the mouth and wanting this cushy job that we have here," Lautenberg said of Booker seeking his seat.

Some New Jersey Democrats see the whole situation as a distraction from the more pending fight to take on Christie.

Democratic state Sen. Loretta Weinberg has been openly critical of Booker's decision not to enter the gubernatorial race, writing an open letter to Booker on earlier this month telling him to "stop the U.S. Senate distraction, give Senator Lautenberg the time to concentrate on getting us federal Sandy help and the respect of making a decision about his re-election in his own time."

In an interview with ABC News she said she was "disappointed."

"I thought [Booker] would make the best candidate on a whole number of levels," Weinberg said of the gubernatorial race. "He's got a clear voice for many of the issues I believe in and most progressive Democrats believe in. He has the ability to command a national stage, as does our governor, and he has the ability to fundraise, as does our governor. I wanted to see those two latter attributes in helping improve the lives of residents in New Jersey."

Weinberg added that Booker's moves toward a U.S. senate run are a "political distraction."

"Lately every time there is a question about the U.S. Senate nomination in New Jersey with the possibility that Frank Lautenberg might be stepping down I prefer (to focus) on the gubernatorial race," Weinberg said.

"I look forward to Mayor Booker joining the rest of us in talking about Gov. Christie's record in New Jersey and why we should have a chance at the governor's office and while Mayor Booker is obviously busy, as well as he should be, running the city of Newark my hope is that in his spare time will be spent in helping us with this campaign and then we can talk about the election after that," Weinberg said.