Lautenberg's family backs Pallone - and not "celebrity" Booker

The late Senator's family said that Pallone knows "gimmicks" won't go far "in the real battles" facing Democrats

By Jillian Rayfield
Published July 8, 2013 3:49PM (EDT)

The family of Frank Lautenberg has endorsed Rep. Frank Pallone - and not Newark Mayor Cory Booker - to fill the late New Jersey senator's seat, referring to Booker in a statement as a "celebrity" who relies on "gimmicks."

"Frank Pallone, like our Frank, will put in the hours and hard work necessary to fight for New Jersey in the Senate," the family said in a statement. "And Frank Pallone knows that gimmicks and celebrity status won’t get you very far in the real battles that Democrats face in the future."

"While it may not always attract glamorous headlines," they continued, "Frank knows that to be effective you must put New Jersey and your principles first, not your own glory."

The Hill explains the background:

Pallone had a close relationship in Congress with Lautenberg, and Booker had angered the senator in January when he indicated he was looking at a run for Senate, before Lautenberg had announced his intentions for 2014.

Booker's decision to come out early about his Senate intentions was in part out of necessity, to allow a Democrat to enter the gubernatorial race in time after he decided against challenging New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R).

This is not the first time Booker's been attacked for his high-profile public image. Rep. Rush Holt, who is also running for Lautenberg's seat, put out a campaign ad in which he describes himself as the anti-Booker. "I'll be the first to admit I’m not Cory Booker. I don’t have a million twitter followers. I’ve never run into a burning building. And I‘m not friends with Mark Zuckerberg, though I did like him on Facebook," Holt says in the ad. Watch:

Booker, Holt and Pallone are running in the Democratic primary for the special election to fill Lautenberg's seat. The primary will be held in August, with the general election called for October.

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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Cory Booker Democrats Frank Lautenberg Frank Pallone New Jersey Video