Sen. Frank Lautenberg's (D-N.J.) spokesman released a one-sentence statement Friday saying that a report on a New York City television station about Lautenberg's retirement is "not true."
NBC New York, citing sources close to Lautenberg, reported Friday evening that the five-term Democrat had decided to retire rather than run against Newark Mayor Cory Booker in the 2014 Democratic primary. Lautenberg spokesman Caley Gray challenged the report about two hours after it was posted on the television station's website.
"The news report that claims Senator Lautenberg has decided to retire is simply not true," Gray said in a statement.
The NBC story said Lautenberg's office did not comment to the station on the retirement.
Lautenberg is the oldest current senator. His spokesman's denial comes the same day that Booker filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission setting up an exploratory committee to seek the Senate seat. Booker announced in December that he was considering the Senate race, instead of challenging Gov. Chris Christie (R) this year.
Lautenberg has previously said that he would not address Booker's candidacy and announce his future political plans immediately. He said he working on gun control and Hurricane Sandy.
Lautenberg, 88, was first elected to the Senate in 1982. He retired in 2000 before returning to office in 2002 after then-Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.) dropped his reelection bid. Lautenberg defeated Rep. Rob Andrews (D) in a competitive 2008 Democratic primary before easily defeating former Rep. Dick Zimmer (R) that November.
Lautenberg has been trailing Booker in polls, but is viewed as a strong candidate in a primary due to his wealth and high name recognition. Lautenberg has also been leading the Democratic fight against several Christie proposals in recent months.
Rep. Frank Pallone (D) is considered a potential Senate candidate against Booker in the event Lautenberg does retire.
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