BY GEOFF MULVIHILL, ASSOCIATED PRESS
Newark Mayor Cory Booker has filed paperwork allowing him to raise money to run for the U.S. Senate in 2014, setting up intrigue over his political future and that of 89-year-old Frank Lautenberg, who currently holds the seat.
Booker made the filing Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission. The prolific social media user has not tweeted about it or made any public announcements about the filing.
But it came as no surprise. Booker, perhaps New Jersey's highest-profile Democratic politician, announced last month that he would not challenge Republican incumbent Chris Christie and run for governor in 2013. Instead, Booker said, he was looking at a run for the Senate next year.
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, a Democrat from central New Jersey, has also expressed interest in the seat.
The interest puts some pressure on Lautenberg, the oldest member of the Senate.
When Booker said he might run for the seat, he praised Lautenberg for his service, but said he had not spoken with him about his plans. Through a spokesman, Lautenberg declined to talk about his political future.
But so far, he has not given any indication that he would like to retire.
And Booker has not said whether he would be willing to take on Lautenberg in a primary run if the senator tries to keep his seat.
Spokesmen for Pallone, Lautenberg and Booker did not immediately return calls to the Associated Press.
In 2008, New Jersey's Democratic establishment decided that Lautenberg was not too old to serve.
U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews challenged him a primary. Most of the state's Democratic leaders stood with Lautenberg, who won handily then retained his seat in the general election.
Booker has 1.3 million Twitter followers and is known for responding to constituent complaints sent to him electronically. During Superstorm Sandy, he invited residents to charge their cellphones at his house. In April, he let the world know through Twitter that he rushed into his neighbor's house and rescued her from a fire. During a snowstorm, he helped shovel people out. And he recently finished spending a week living on a food stamps-level food budget as part of a challenge that came from a Twitter follower.
He was elected mayor of Newark in 2006 with 72 percent of the vote, four years after narrowly losing a bruising battle against longtime Mayor Sharpe James. The race was chronicled in the 2005 documentary "Street Fight." He was re-elected in 2010 with about 60 percent of the vote
A Stanford-educated Rhodes Scholar who grew up in suburban Harrington Park, N.J., Booker is the son of civil rights activists who were among the first black executives at IBM. He got his law degree from Yale Law School, then moved to one of Newark's most notoriously violent housing projects.