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If you predicting that U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D. NJ) will be retiring this upcoming midterm election, think again:

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Caley Gray, Lautenberg’s spokesman, dismissed the retirement rumors.

“Senator Lautenberg has a lot of work to do in the Senate rebuilding New Jersey after Sandy struck and retirement is the last thing on his mind,” he said. - The Hill, 11/25/12

Lautenberg will be 90 years old when 2014 comes around.  He has already secured the endorsement from the third most ranked Democrat in the Senate, Senator Chuck Schumer (D. NY):

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"One more thing, we absolutely want him to run again; we hope he continues to run for one more term," said Schumer at the tail end of his remarks at the Stony Hill Inn in Hackensack. - PolitickerNJ, 11/6/11

The Philadelphia Inquirer handicapped the 2014 New Jersey Senate race nearly two months ago and showed problems for any of Lautenberg's challengers.  His potential challengers include State Senate Majority Leader Steve Sweeney (D. NJ) and Congressman Frank Pallone:

A recent poll from Monmouth University and my old friends at the Asbury Park Press, though, shows serious challenges for a couple of the people mentioned as likely Lautenberg rivals, including South Jersey’s Steve Sweeney, the state Senate president who has made no secret of his ambitions for higher office.

The poll is focused on Christie and the Democrats who might run against him next year, but the numbers also give us a picture of where the big names stand statewide, and it's clear that Sweeney and Congressman Frank Pallone, another potential Lautenberg challenger, have a lot of ground to cover to make a real run for a seat in DC’s most exclusive club.

Their big weakness is name recognition – a critical attribute but one that is difficult to build in a state that is split between two media markets that focus on Philly and New York much more than the unruly neighbor in between. Sweeney, from Gloucester County, is familiar to just 35 percent of voters statewide (and only 19 percent view him favorably). Pallone is at 25 percent name recognition, with a 17 percent approval rating. - Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/1/12

The poll showed that the only real candidate with a shot at challenging Lautenberg is Newark Mayor, Cory Booker (D):

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Compare that to Cory Booker, the Newark mayor who is often mentioned as a potential statewide candidate in 2013, against Christie, in 2014 for Senate, or for both. He is familiar to 62 percent of voters, according to Monmouth U, and 49 percent of view him favorably. Former Gov. Dick Codey, a state Senator these days, is known to 48 percent of voters. From there, the figures drop off a cliff for Democrats like Sweeney and Pallone. (Inquirer colleague Matt Katz has a breakdown of the implications for the looming governor’s race over at The Christie Chronicles).

Lautenberg wasn’t included in the Monmouth poll but the Inquirer’s recent New Jersey poll found that 62 percent of likely voters were familiar with the long-time Senator, and 34 percent said they saw him strongly or somewhat favorably.

It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, since we’re dealing with two different polls and the Inquirer looked at likely voters only, but we can get a sense of the overall landscape: Lautenberg isn’t overwhelmingly loved, but he’s known a lot better than his potential foes, other than Booker. - Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/1/12

If Booker decides to challenge Lautenberg instead of running against Governor Chirs Christie (R) in 2013, Lautenberg won't go out that easily:

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Some Democrats would like to see Newark Mayor Cory Booker fill the seat but Lautenberg may not give it up without a fight. He criticized Booker in May for undermining Obama’s re-election effort after Booker said the president’s campaign should drop efforts to vilify Mitt Romney’s career at Bain Capital. - The Hill, 11/25/12

We'll have to wait and see.  You kind of have to admire Lautenberg for wanting to keep fighting in the Senate.  It's very clear he's not a fan of Cory Booker and Lautenberg isn't ready to leave yet until all the damage from Hurricane Sandy is fully repaired in the Garden State:

Vice Chairman of the Senate approximations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, is a member of the full Approximations Committee. They will investigate and write the emergency package for Hurricane Sandy.

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Lautenberg said, “This cost analysis is a critical step in our effort to move a strong emergency funding package forward in Washington. The people of New Jersey can rely on the congressional delegation to work with the Obama Administration, Governor Christie and our colleagues to deliver the funding necessary for New Jersey families, communities and businesses to recover and rebuild so that we’re stronger than ever before.” - Solar Panel News, 11/25/12

I don't know what impact a primary challenge from Booker would have on this Senate race but we will just have to sit tight and wait and see what happens.  The ball is Lautenberg's court and Booker has decide if he wants to be a Governor or Senator.  More to come.

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