Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6) entered the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat previously occupied by Frank Lautenberg, who died last week.
Pallone, 61, of Long Branch made the announcement in Trenton on Monday after delivering nominating petitions to the New Jersey Division of Elections. Political insiders speculated for several days that Pallone would throw his hat into the ring.
“I’m in,” Pallone said in a prepared statement released Monday. “I’m in this race because families in our state and throughout the nation are hurting, and I believe that we have a responsibility to roll up our sleeves, get to work and help.”
At Monday’s news conference, Pallone laid out a list of top priorities in declaring his candidacy, including rebuilding the economy, environmental issues and advocating for equality for all Americans, according to a news release.
“We need results from proven leaders now, which is why I am entering this race and why I am asking for the support of New Jerseyans to be our state’s next Senator,” Pallone said in the statement.
As potential candidates scrambled to enter the race, Pallone said Sunday that he could win the Democratic primary against Newark Mayor Cory Booker based on his progressive congressional record, the Associated Press reported. Booker declared his intentions to run Saturday. Rep. Rush Holt (D-12) announced late Thursday that he is also pursuing the seat.
Pallone, whose district includes many shore towns, has a financial advantage over the field, at least at the moment. According to Politicker NJ, Pallone has about $3 million in his campaign war chest compared to Holt's approximately $700,000.
Pallone was sworn in for his 13th full term in the U.S. House of Representatives in January 2013, representing New Jersey’s Sixth Congressional District. In the 113th Congress, Pallone serves as a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is on the Committee’s Subcommittee on Health.
“I have never backed down from a fight, regardless of how long the odds are, and I will continue to stand firm in my fight for New Jersey,” Pallone said in his statement.