Lautenberg had been battling health issues for some time. He had been in the news earlier in regard to what he considered to be premature overtures from Newark Mayor Corey Booker (D) concerning the race for Lautenberg’s seat in the Senate, which is up for a vote in 2014. However, Lautenberg eventually announced that he was not planning to run for re-election.
His membership on the Commerce Committee gave him ample opportunity to campaign for better broadcast service for the citizens of his south, particularly on the television side.
Lautenberg has been particularly critical of Fox Television’s WOR in Secaucus NJ, which he complained plays primarily to New Yorkers at the expense of New Jersey residents.
According to The Hill, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has the ability to replace Lautenberg temporarily with the person of his choice – expect a Republican – and to schedule a special election to allow voters to make their own pick to finish his term.
RBR-TVBR observation: Whether or not you agree with Lautenberg on the issues, he constantly trumpeted the power and importance of local broadcasting. With his state’s unique geographical challenge, living in the shadow of two out of state top-four US media markets, Lautenberg was in a position to know what its like to live in a place where local news and information could be a scarce commodity, again mostly on the television side. It will be interesting to see if Sen. Bob Menendez and Lautenberg’s eventual replacement continue to press for better service for their state.