Tag Archive: Frank Lautenberg

“There Goes a Great Man” – At the Color Guard Ceremony for Sen. Frank Lautenberg

Frank Lautenberg send off

On the main concourse at the train station long ago named for rail advocate Frank Lautenberg, there is a wide rotunda with vast windows that let in today’s summer sunshine. This is where a Color Guard ceremony for the late Senator Frank Lautenberg was held late this afternoon before about 100 family members and dignitaries before a brief send-off on Track Three and a special train, empty except for the Lautenberg family and their father and grandfather’s flag-draped coffin. Lautenberg’s body is now headed for Washington D.C. where he will lie in repose tomorrow in the well of the Senate, with burial early Friday morning at Arlington National Cemetery, among fellow veterans of World War II.

The ceremony began with bagpipes playing The Caissons Go Rolling Along, then God Bless America, and then Taps. As Senator Lautenberg’s body was borne in, the big destination boards in six bright colors began to flip with new trains, and new places. That seemed fitting. Dover, Montclair State University, Suffern, Ridgewood, Port Jervis …

The small audience, roped off on all sides from the commuter life just beyond the barrier, was standing. Inside the roped-in seating area, Governor Christie , LG Kim Guadagno and Rush Holt in the first row. The Lautenberg family, who presided over the Senator’s funeral this morning at Park Avenue Synagogue in NYC, filled the seats to the left. Also seated, Amtrak officials, a scattering of state and county-level electeds, and several members of Lautenberg’s staff, past and present. Directly behind Gov. Christie, a lowly lefty blogger. Just beyond the ceremony and under the big windows on all sides, commuters walked by. In business suits. In blue jeans. Wheeling strollers. Going places, or going home via the rail system Frank Lautenberg guarded federal funding for, in the vast station bearing his name.

As the casket was carried out, his family behind it, all of us still standing, somebody behind me whispered, “There goes a great man.” Above us, in six bright colors, the destination board flipped again. Newark (Broad Street). Second stop, Summit. Teterboro. Nanuet.

Frank Lautenberg’s body is now on a special Amtrak train making it was through the state he represented to his country, headed back to the Senate he served.  Frank Lautenberg, born poor in Paterson, New Jersey, will lie in repose tomorrow in the Senate chamber, on the Lincoln Catafalque, a bier handmade for the coffin of the sixteenth president of the United States.

Photo above is Amtrak’s send-off message to the man who fought for public transportation funding his entire public life. Amtrak Tweeted a final goodbye to their champion.

Christie’s Staff Privately Admits He Lies

So, Chris Christie says there’s no politics in his decision on when to hold the special election to replace Senator Frank Lautenberg.

His staff apparently disagrees.

He repeatedly denied that political calculations were at play. But his advisers privately conceded that adding the Senate contest to the Nov. 5 general election risked energizing Democrats, who outnumber Republicans by 700,000 registered voters in New Jersey.

Frank Lautenberg Funeral and Memorial Services

Note: I’m updating the diary as the funeral progresses, both from pool reporting and NJTV’s live broadcast.

The funeral of Senator Frank Lautenberg at Park Avenue Synagogue in NYC started a few minutes ago with a prayer by the Lautenberg family and the tearing of fabric customary in the Jewish service. Lautenberg’s casket, closed, is in front of the altar draped in an American flag.

Just before the service began, VP Joe Biden walked in with wife Dr. Jill Biden, hugging widow Bonnie. They’re now seated in the second row with Hillary Clinton. Gov. Christie is seated in the 6th row, next to Jim McGreevey. Rush Holt and Frank Pallone, who were not only fellow members of the congressional delegation but also Lautenberg’s progressive colleagues in the House are sitting together. Both are likely to seek Lautenberg’s seat. Rep. Bill Pascrell is also there. Cory Booker, a candidate to replace Lautenberg, apparently is not attending. Forty-one senators and six House members are attending, including Sen. Joe Lieberman. Jon Corzine, who emerged a few days ago to speak about the Senator, is also here, as is Jim Florio.

It falls to Sen. Bob Menendez to tell the Lautenberg biography, and some of what he accomplished in the Senate. Menendez talked about this week’s Democratic caucus, which turned into each member wanting to share Lautenberg stories and jokes. Menendez said Lautenberg ran afoul of the NRA, tobacco and chemical industries with his legislation. “But Frank did what he believed was right.” [snip] “Even when ill, he didn’t hesitate to come back to vote on gun control measures.”

Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove: Lautenberg was “able to walk with kings while never losing the common touch.” [snip] “A mensch through and through” who always had an “abiding awareness of his roots” in Paterson. He also talked about Lautenberg’s commitment to women’s issues, which came partly from the influence of strong women, but aalso his recollection “of the injustice of seeing his mother laid off following the war.”

Buono, Oliver, Sweeney on Christie Special Election Decision – Pallone & Holt In, Andrews Out

Senator and presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee Barbara Buono on Gov. Christie’s announcement of a special election schedule to fill the U.S. Senate seat of the late Frank Lautenberg. Buono:

“Earlier this year, the Governor cited money as to why he vetoed early voting. However, despite costing millions of dollars, Governor Christie made the cynical and arrogant decision to call a special election in October. His choice made it clear that he does not care about wasting taxpayer money. Moreover, by holding two elections within weeks of each other, the Governor will needlessly disenfranchise voters. He should change his decision and hold the election on November 5.”

NJ Speaker of the Assembly Sheila Oliver:

“I’m very disappointed the governor has chosen to be so transparently political and waste taxpayer money on a special October election,” Speaker Sheila Oliver said in a statement issued shortly after Gov. Chris Christie’s decision was announced Tuesday.

NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney:

“I appreciate that the governor heeded my call, and that of others, to ensure that the voters of New Jersey will get a chance this year to decide who will represent them in the Senate.  Waiting 17 months to allow the public to have their say simply wasn’t an option,” Sweeney said.”That being said, it certainly would have been more rational to hold the election in November instead of October,” he added.

Meanwhile, the special election schedule outlined today by Gov. Christie means that seated members of Congress will not risk their seats in an effort to compete on the ballot for the chance for a spot in Congress’ upper house, and against Cory Booker, who has already been working toward a Senate campaign for months. Frank Pallone and Rush Holt appear ready to jump. Rep. Rob Andrews, who challenged Lautenberg in a 2008 Senate primary will sit it out this time.  

NJ Working Families Alliance Responds to Christie Special Election Decision

First up to respond to Gov. Christie’s announcement this afternoon of an October 2013 special election to replace the late Senator Frank Lautenberg, is Bill Holland of New Jersey Working Families Alliance. We have this before any statement from the state Dems, the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) or the New Jersey Democratic legislative leadership. Working Families is partnering with Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) on a petition urging Christie to maximize civic participation by holding the election during the November 5 general election.

Sign the petition calling on Christie to hold this election November 5.

Working Families spokesman Bill Holland:

“Governor Christie’s decision places partisan politics above electoral participation. Holding an election a mere three weeks before an already scheduled general election promises to decrease turnout, especially among those who already lack a voice in government. Moreover, he’s asking taxpayers to foot the multi-million dollar bill instead of using the funds to address New Jersey’s persistent jobs crisis. The Governor should reconsider his decision and do the right thing for New Jersey’s voters and its fiscal health.”

UPDATE: PCCC’s Adam Green, who is from Edison/Somerset weighs in on Christie’s plan:

“It is outrageous that Chris Christie decided to exploit Frank Lautenberg’s death for his own political gain. New Jersey deserves representation in the U.S. Senate that is chosen by as many people as possible. By having two statewide elections in one month, Christie is potentially disenfranchising millions of people by causing major voter confusion and real hardship for working people across New Jersey — particularly those who work multiple jobs that require taking time off to vote.”

The New Jersey Working Families Alliance is a coalition of community, environmental, consumer and citizen organizations dedicated to advancing progressive policies in the Garden State. Blue Jersey has partnered with Working Families on projects and initiatives we think benefit New Jersey. PCCC’s got almost 1 million members nationwide, many of them in NJ. Adam Green, a veteran of MoveOn and NJDSC, and Stephanie Taylor, who comes from MoveOn and SEIU, are co-founders.  

Christie orders Special Elections – Primary August 13, General October 16

Governor Chris Christie is using his authority to designate dates for a primary and general special election to replace Senator Frank Lautenberg:

Primary: Tuesday, August 13, 2013

General Special Election: Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The non-partisan Office of Legislative Services (OLS) projects that a special election primary and general will cost $24 million.

The governor said he has not yet decided who he will name to fill the seat until after the October special election.

Christie woke up this morning with a new power, that of kingmaker. He could have appointed a senator to serve the rest of Lautenberg’s term. And he will be criticized by Republicans and conservatives for the missed political opportunity of turning a blue seat red in a blue state. Not that he was required to appoint a member of his own party; he also had the option of appointing a Democrat.

Christie said he the work of the Senate was too important to leave to an appointed person for 18 months. He also said he was not playing politics with this decision, but of course he is doing just that; allowing the voters to determine Lautenberg’s successor in November, 2013, would have brought out a surge of Democratic voters in this blue state, and that would have altered the landscape for his Democratic opponent Barbara Buono. Many of Christie’s governing decisions are made with the 2016 White House in mind. A 2013 re-election landslide against Buono serves him better than an election with Cory Booker on the ballot pulling Democrats into the voting booth.

Expect challenge from national Democrats, who have given Buono and New Jersey far less attention than Virginia – which also has the governor and legislative races on the November ballot – and from state Dems, who will question the cost of a special election when New Jersey under Christie is already struggling with its own economic recovery and paying its bills. That’s a lot of money for us to spend just to protect Chris Christie’s landslide chances.  

Chris Christie Can Show True Bi-Partisan Chops with Senate Appointment

Gov. Christie has called a 1:30pm press conference with speculation heavy he’ll use it to name a successor to Lautenberg. Promoted by Rosi

Senator Frank Lautenberg’s passing gives New Jersey Governor Chris Christie an opportunity to burnish the “bipartisan” credibility he has so carefully built. Or he can show himself to be a partisan more interested in helping his party than respecting the people’s will.

Every analysis I’ve seen up ’til now has named Republicans Christie could appoint, but for 40 years the voters of New Jersey have repeatedly sent Democrats to the United States Senate.  That means roughly every voter 58 an under has been part of elections that sent only Democrats and no Republicans to the US Senate.

If there were occasional Republicans in there, then replacing an individual Senator named Lautenberg with a Republican named Kyrillos or Kean might make sense.  But there are none, and the will of the people is clearly to send Democrats to the Senate, regardless of the individual.  The electorate has clearly spoken in saying that they do not want Republicans representing them since Clifford Case won reelection in 1972.