Sen. Lautenberg has stomach cancer

86-year-old Democrat's health has been the source of speculation in New Jersey since 2002

Topics: War Room,

Sen. Lautenberg has stomach cancerFrank Lautenberg (Credit: AP)

The (Newark) Star-Ledger is reporting that New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg was diagnosed with stomach cancer “within the last 24 hours” and that the 86-year-old Democrat expects to make a recovery and return to work quickly — and to seek re-election in 2014.

Lautenberg’s health has been the subject of considerable chatter and speculation in Garden State political circles since 2002, when he made an unexpected return to the Senate. (After three terms in office, he’d retired in 2000 — fearing a rough general election battle with then-Gov. Christine Todd Whitman — only to be tapped by state Democrats as their emergency replacement candidate when Sen. Robert Torricelli dropped out five weeks before the ’02 election.)

If he were to vacate his seat, the state’s new Republican governor, Christopher J. Christie, would appoint a successor, who would serve until a special election (which would coincide with the next regularly scheduled general election). The assumption among New Jersey insiders is that Christie would pick his lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, a former sheriff and federal prosecutor. Guadagno is the state’s first-ever lieutenant governor. Christie chose her to run with him after last June’s GOP primary, and her name appeared with his on the November ballot — so she’s yet to win a statewide primary or general election in her own right.

After Christie won last November, some Democrats in the state legislature made noise about changing the Senate succession law to either strip Christie of the ability to pick a successor or to speed up the special election after any appointment was made. Christie strongly opposed the move and it quickly fizzled, with Democrats fearing it would incite a voter backlash.

New Jersey’s last Republican senator was Nicholas Brady, who was appointed by Governor Tom Kean to replace Democrat Harrison Williams in 1982. Kean appointed Brady as a caretaker; he did not run for a full term that fall, when Lautenberg won the seat by defeating Republican Millicent Fenwick. The last Republican to win a Senate election in New Jersey was Clifford Case, back in 1972.



After Lautenberg returned to the Senate in ’02, several Democrats — including Reps. Steve Rothman and then-state Senator (and now Congressman) John Adler — began making moves to succeed him in 2008, believing he would be too old to run again. But Lautenberg thumbed his nose at them and ran anyway, drawing a last-minute primary challenge from Rep. Rob Andrews. But, with an assist from Sen. Bob Menendez, Lautenberg kept the state’s powerful county Democratic organizations in line and beat back Andrews’ challenge with ease.

Steve Kornacki

Steve Kornacki writes about politics for Salon. Reach him by email at SKornacki@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @SteveKornacki

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 10
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Bet Me" by Jennifer Crusie

    A contemporary romantic comedy set to Elvis Costello and lots of luxurious and sinful sugary treats.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Welcome to Temptation" by Jennifer Crusie

    Another of Crusie's romantic comedies, this one in the shadow of an ostentatiously phallic water tower.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "A Gentleman Undone" by Cecilia Grant

    A Regency romance with beautifully broken people and some seriously steamy sex.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Black Silk" by Judith Ivory

    A beautifully written, exquisitely slow-building Regency; the plot is centered on a box with some very curious images, as Edward Gorey might say.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "For My Lady's Heart" by Laura Kinsale

    A medieval romance, the period piece functions much like a dystopia, with the courageous lady and noble knight struggling to find happiness despite the authoritarian society.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Sweet Disorder" by Rose Lerner

    A Regency that uses the limitations on women of the time to good effect; the main character is poor and needs to sell her vote ... or rather her husband's vote. But to sell it, she needs to get a husband first ...   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Frenemy of the People" by Nora Olsen

    Clarissa is sitting at an awards banquet when she suddenly realizes she likes pictures of Kimye for both Kim and Kanye and she is totally bi. So she texts to all her friends, "I am totally bi!" Drama and romance ensue ... but not quite with who she expects. I got an advanced copy of this YA lesbian romance, and I’d urge folks to reserve a copy; it’s a delight.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "The Slightest Provocation" by Pam Rosenthal

    A separated couple works to reconcile against a background of political intrigue; sort of "His Gal Friday" as a spy novel set in the Regency.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Again" by Kathleen Gilles Seidel

    Set among workers on a period soap opera, it manages to be contemporary and historical both at the same time.   Read the whole essay.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>