(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Frank Lautenberg will not seek re-election in 2014.
The longtime Democratic senator from New Jersey made the announcement on Thursday.
“This is not the end of anything,” Lautenberg, 89, said in a statement, “but rather the beginning of a two-year mission to pass new gun safety laws, protect children from toxic chemicals, and create more opportunities for working families in New Jersey.”
“While I may not be seeking re-election, there is plenty of work to do before the end of this term and I’m going to keep fighting as hard as ever for the people of New Jersey in the U.S. Senate,” he said.
Lautenberg would have been 90 years old at the time of his re-election.
Lautenberg has been colorful in describing the motivations of his would-be primary challenger, Newark Mayor Cory Booker. But this announcement leaves Booker with the inside track to the Democratic nomination in 2014.
It also marks the end of an era in Senate and American history.
With the death of Sen. Daniel Inouye earlier this year, Lautenberg is the last World War II veteran in the Senate.
In a statement Thursday, President Obama called Lautenberg “a steadfast champion of the people of New Jersey.”
“Throughout his time in the Senate, Frank has fought tirelessly for workers, veterans, members of our military and their families, and immigrants, and he continues to make extraordinary contributions to our nation’s safety, and the health and welfare of our citizens,” the president said. “His service in World War II is a testament to his character and deep commitment to public service.”
“I look forward to working with Frank on critical issues before us these next two years, and Michelle and I wish him and Bonnie all the best.”
Newark Mayor Cory Booker issued the following statement:
Senator Frank Lautenberg has been a champion for the people of New Jersey for decades and his legacy of service will improve the lives of all Americans for years to come.
Here in Newark, his tireless advocacy and numerous contributions have helped our city endure difficult days and are now fueling our turn toward growth, promise and endless possibility. Newarkers know, from our airport and the roads we drive on, to our schools and services for our seniors, Frank Lautenberg has helped empower people and strengthen our city.
On a personal note, Senator Lautenberg has been a strong model of leadership and service to me since before I even considered entering elected office. Recently, he has been an invaluable partner in so many of Newark’s recent accomplishments and successes. I look forward to continuing to work with him for the remainder of his term in the Senate and for many years to come.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie offered the following statement:
Frank Lautenberg and I have had our differences through the years, but I’ve always respected him for his tenacity, devotion to the people of New Jersey and his love for and commitment to public service. I will always be grateful for his doggedness in fighting with me and the delegation to ensure congressional passage of an aid package after Hurricane Sandy that is delivering necessary assistance to our residents. I wish him the best in his retirement.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio