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Congressman Frank Pallone (D. NJ-06) received a big endorsement for his bid for U.S. Senate today:

Democratic candidate Rep. Frank Pallone carries a box containing signatures of supporters of his candidacy for Senate Monday June 10, 2013. Candidates for the US Senate seat left vacant by the death of Frank Lautenberg, filed with the NJ Division of Elections on the last day of eligibility.    (AP Photo/The Record, Chris Pedota)
The family of the late senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) endorsed Rep. Frank Pallone (D) as his successor Monday, picking Pallone over Newark Mayor Cory Booker, the odds-on favorite in the race.

“Most of the candidates in the Democratic field have proven themselves as hardworking, progressive leaders who care deeply about New Jersey,” the Lautenberg family said in a statement released by the Pallone campaign. “But only one of them stands out as ready to continue Frank Lautenberg’s progressive leadership in the U.S. Senate. That candidate is Congressman Frank Pallone.

“We are saying: Stick with Frank.” - Washington Post, 7/8/13

Here's the full statement the Lautenberg family made in support of Pallone's candidacy:

“Frank Lautenberg followed three fundamental principles as New Jersey’s U.S. Senator: stay true to his progressive values, put New Jersey first, and be a workhorse, not a showhorse.  After he announced his retirement, he spoke often about his desire that his replacement in the Senate respect those core principles and continue his work.
Deciding which candidate to endorse was not an easy decision.  Most of the candidates in the Democratic field have proven themselves as hardworking, progressive leaders who care deeply about New Jersey.  But only one of them stands out as ready to continue Frank Lautenberg’s progressive leadership in the U.S. Senate.  That candidate is Congressman Frank Pallone.
We are saying: Stick with Frank.
Frank Pallone, like Frank Lautenberg, has always looked out for working families in New Jersey and made them his top priority – in fighting for economic justice, healthcare reform, environmental protection, education and so many other issues.  Frank Pallone, like our Frank, will put in the hours and hard work necessary to fight for New Jersey in the Senate.  And Frank Pallone knows that gimmicks and celebrity status won’t get you very far in the real battles that Democrats face in the future.
Frank Pallone worked with Frank Lautenberg for many years.  He understands what it takes to take on and defeat Republicans and the special interests that attack the well being of working families.  While it may not always attract glamorous headlines, Frank knows that to be effective you must put New Jersey and your principles first, not your own glory.
When New Jersey Democrats examine the Senate candidates closely, they may be surprised to find out that not all of them share core Democratic values or loyalty to the party.  And one candidate stands out as the best hope of continuing the progressive legacy of Senator Frank Lautenberg – Congressman Frank Pallone.” - New York Daily News, 7/8/13
I personally like Pallone the best as the Democratic nominee.  He's a member of the Progressive Caucus and has been one of the most vocal member of the New Jersey delegation fighting for funding to help New Jersey rebuild after Hurricane Sandy.  Congressman Rush Holt (D. NJ-12) is my second pick in the New Jersey Democratic Primary.  Holt is also running as a progressive alternative to Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D):

Holt — whose wife, Margaret Lancefield, is a physician in Princeton — is also burnishing his reliably liberal congressional record, reminding voters of his votes against the Iraq war and extending the Patriot Act, and his attempts to curb global warming.

Holt said that if elected to the Senate, he would focus on boosting education and scientific research, and protecting civil rights and liberties. And he would continue to push for universal health care coverage through a single-payer system — something liberals have long pushed for, but was not part of the proposals that became the Affordable Care Act.

"There’s no question that the Affordable Care Act, which is a huge improvement for health care in America, is kind of cobbled together by compromise in a way that is not most efficient and most beneficial to people," Holt said. "I think we will before long come to the conclusion that it’s time to move to universal, single-payer coverage." - The Star-Ledger, 7/6/13

Both Pallone and Holt have been trying to persuade Democratic voters that Booker isn't the candidate they think he is.  Pallone's been critical of Booker's close relationship with Governor Chris Christie (R. NJ):

Pallone’s hoping to exploit the the Christie-Booker bromance to his advantage in the Democratic Senate primary. While the tactic may yet work (it’s too early to say), Christie’s widespread popularity that extends even to Democrats suggests the more likely bet is that it won’t.

It’s no secret that Booker and Christie have cultivated a chummy public relationship over the years. New Jersey’s two most famous pols have teamed up to film humorous Web videos and watch football. The two have also found common ground on education.

“One of the criticisms I have of Cory Booker is he has this very close relationship with Gov. Christie, and it hasn’t resulted in anything positive in my opinion,” Pallone told WNYC-FM’s Brian Lehrer on Tuesday. - Washington Post, 6/14/13

Holt's been taking a different path going after Booker:

The video released Wednesday shows a young African American teacher proclaiming her support for Holt despite liking Booker.

An earlier ad opens with Holt contrasting himself with Booker, who has more Twitter followers, has run into a burning building to rescue a neighbor and is friends with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Holt says in the ad he plans on beating Booker the same way he outsmarted a computer named Watson on “Jeopardy.” - New Jersey 101.5, 7/3/13

Booker might be the favorite in this race but some New Jersey Democrats are a little suspicious of Booker's tactics:

Local Democrats in this mostly-Republican corner of the state did a double-take when they saw the ballot for the upcoming U.S. Senate primary.

Namely, it’s Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s printed slogan that has raised some eyebrows among the local party brass.

“Sussex County Democrats 2013” is the slogan underneath Booker’s name on the sample ballot for the 2013 primary.

But local Democrats have balked, saying they haven’t yet decided whom they will endorse – and the slogan could be misleading to voters, said Michael Busche, the Sussex County Democratic Committee chairman.

“We were concerned that this implied we endorsed him,” Busche said. “We haven’t done that.”

After noticing the ballot’s wording, Busche sent a letter to the other three candidates — U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, U.S. Rep Frank Pallone, and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver — saying the local party was “disturbed” by the implied endorsement. The party also sent a copy of the letter to Booker. - The Star-Ledger, 7/4/13

But New Jersey establishment Democrats firmly believe Booker is their best candidate:

Democratic officials were overwhelmed by the mayor's popularity and potential, and by visions of him as a campaign heavyweight who could help local candidates for years - and even in November.

"He became a household name in New Jersey, and that's how he established his political credentials with the established political leaders," said State Sen. Ray Lesniak, a longtime power broker from Union County.

"He became a celebrity, he became a folk hero," Lesniak said. "His enormous popularity transcends any personal connection that other candidates have."

Lesniak, who has not made an endorsement, raved about the Booker mythology: famous friends like Oprah Winfrey, a prominent role campaigning for President Obama, his dash into a burning building to save a woman, and his Twitter legions - 1.4 million and counting.

A veteran dealmaker with a taste for French wine, Lesniak said, "Cory Booker has the je né sais quoi that no other New Jersey Democrat has."

South Jersey's top Democrats all have endorsed Booker, as has the party establishment in four North Jersey counties, including the state's three most populous. The support could give Booker an organizational lift as he tries to reach voters for an Aug. 13 primary.

Booker didn't always have such backing.

When the 32-year-old city councilman was trying to make his first big political leap - running for mayor in 2002 - Lesniak and nearly all the state's Democratic leaders backed incumbent Sharpe James. Booker had an outsize following, but James had years of accumulated power, and the establishment helped him defeat the precocious challenger.

But the campaign was featured in a hit documentary, Street Fight, helping propel Booker into a stratosphere few politicians ever reach.

His profile has only risen since.

Booker's national renown will give him instant clout in the Senate, predicted Joe DiVincenzo, a political force and the top elected official in Booker's home county, Essex.

"As soon as he goes in there, he's going to be in the top 10" of the 100 senators, said DiVincenzo, a one-time James supporter who now backs Booker.

South Jersey Democrats see Booker as the leading man, whose guest appearances and fund-raising could be a crucial asset as they contend with Republican Gov. Christie's muscle.

"The mayor will ... give us the greatest opportunity in November in years to come," said Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D., Camden). - Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/6/13

Pallone and Holt have a tough and short road ahead of them is they want to be beat Booker in the August 13th primary.  If you would like to get involved or donate to Pallone's campaign, you can do so here:

Originally posted to pdc on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 09:54 AM PDT.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party and In Support of Labor and Unions.

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