Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s (D-N.J.) decision to make his retirement official cleared what was likely the largest obstacle to Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s path to the Democratic nomination for Senate in New Jersey, but Democrats privately warn that Booker will have to continue to mend fences coming out of a turbulent two months.
“Mayor Booker will probably be spending a lot of time unruffling some feathers and making new friends,” said Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf, who has worked extensively on races in New Jersey.
Booker’s decision to run for Senate instead of challenging Gov. Chris Christie (R ) rankled many Democrats, who say his handling of the decision — announcing before Lautenberg had officially made up his mind on retirement — was disrespectful to the incumbent. They also believe Booker left the party in the lurch by eliminating its best chance at defeating Christie.