Political endorsements are always interesting for their, usually, subtle attacks at other candidates. At first read, this statement seems kind to all candidates, however rereading can show attacks at Mayor Cory Booker. Mayor Booker has not been liked by the family, or the late Senator, since he announced he was looking at challenging Senator Lautenberg for his seat in 2014. The mayor announced he was looking at the race because many had said that he would run for governor, and he wanted to clear the way for a Democrat to run. However, Senator Lautenberg later announced he would not seek re-election, and after that he passed away. The family has criticized Mayor Booker for relying on his celebrity status, and Senator Lautenberg once said that Mayor Booker deserves a “spanking.”
The following is the statement that the Lautenberg family released in support of the Mayor Booker’s opponent, Rep. Frank Pallone. The italicized parentheses are mine, and are notes on the statement.
“Frank Lautenberg followed three fundamental principles as New Jersey’s U.S. Senator: stay true to his progressive values, put New Jersey first, and be a workhorse, not a showhorse. (The last two principles could be seen as a jab at Mayor Booker, who has been criticized for focusing too much on his celebrity image, and not on his constituents in Newark.) After he announced his retirement, he spoke often about his desire that his replacement in the Senate respect those core principles and continue his work (In their eyes, not Cory Booker).
Deciding which candidate to endorse was not an easy decision. Most of the candidates in the Democratic field have proven themselves as hardworking, progressive leaders who care deeply about New Jersey. (The key word is “most,” which would exempt one candidate. Being how there are four candidates, the most candidates they could not count and be mathematically sound is one.) But only one of them stands out as ready to continue Frank Lautenberg’s progressive leadership in the U.S. Senate. That candidate is Congressman Frank Pallone.
We are saying: Stick with Frank.
Frank Pallone, like Frank Lautenberg, has always looked out for working families in New Jersey and made them his top priority – in fighting for economic justice, healthcare reform, environmental protection, education and so many other issues. Frank Pallone, like our Frank, will put in the hours and hard work necessary to fight for New Jersey in the Senate. 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. (They mention “celebrity status won’t get you very far,” which is another attack on Cory Booker and what some say is his celebrity status, like the press attention he gets for saving proper out of a burning house.)
Frank Pallone worked with Frank Lautenberg for many years. He understands what it takes to take on and defeat Republicans and the special interests that attack the well being of working families. While it may not always attract glamorous headlines, Frank knows that to be effective you must put New Jersey and your principles first, not your own glory. (Another reference to Mayor Booker’s celebrity status with the mentioning of glamorous headlines.)
When New Jersey Democrats examine the Senate candidates closely, they may be surprised to find out that not all of them share core Democratic values or loyalty to the party. (This could be seen as an attack at Mayor Booker’s moderate policy stances and his close ties to Republican New Jersey governor Chris Christie.) And one candidate stands out as the best hope of continuing the progressive legacy of Senator Frank Lautenberg – Congressman Frank Pallone.”