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.

You Might Also Like

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 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • 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>