Sen. Frank Lautenberg died this morning of viral pneumonia at age 89, his office said. The oldest member of the Senate, Lautenberg had struggled with health problems since late last year, when he missed several weeks of votes because of what he said was flu and bronchitis.
Lautenberg, facing a likely primary challenge from Newark Mayor Cory Booker, announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election in 2014 and planned to retire at the end of his fifth term in the Senate. With his passing, Gov. Chris Christie will get the chance to appoint a temporary replacement until a special election can be held later this year. The winner of that election, however, will only serve out the remainder of Lautenberg's current term, and the regular 2014 election for the next six-year term will go on as scheduled, according to the Washington Post. That will leave Booker and other candidates to decide whether to spend money to compete in this year's election, or save their resources for 2014.
*Correction: An earlier version of this post misidentified the name of the Bergen newspaper. It is the Record, not the Reporter.
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