Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) actually retired from the Senate once upon a time, but was tapped as a pinch-hitter for a trouble Democrat back in 2002 and won a return to the US Senate. Now, at 84, the prominent Commerce Committee warhorse is hitting the campaign trail for yet another term. According to the Associated Press, only one senator have taken more rides around the sun than Lautenberg: Robert Byrd (D-WV), at 90. Ted Stevens (R-AK) is also 84, but got a two-month head start on Lautenberg in the Game of Life, and happens to be running for another term as well.
RBR/TVBR observation: Lautenberg has strong opinions on broadcast matters, colored strongly by the situation in the state he represents. Nobody would include New Jersey as a prominent member of the USA’s rural states, but at the same time, it lacks a major media market of its own. Worse, it is hemmed in by two of the biggest: New York to the north and Philadelphia to the south. As a result, New Jersey radio is comprised of several smaller Arbitron markets, served mostly by lower class radio stations; and on the television side has no defined Nielsen DMA at all. This is a very sore point among residents of the state, and Lautenberg was a driving force behind an FCC hearing on Fox/News Corp.s’ WWOR-TV. NJers charge that the Secaucus NJ station puts its focus squarely on New York City and turns a cold shoulder to the state in which it is licensed. Within the Commerce Committee, Byron Dorgan (D-ND) takes the lead on most communications issues, but Lautenberg has been one of Dorgan’s reliable allies.