New Jersey Senate: Lautenberg Out, Still Safe D For Now

February 14, 2013 · 5:25 PM EDT

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) announced his retirement on Thursday, setting off a potential scramble for his open seat in New Jersey. But the most important action is likely to be on the Democratic side.

One prominent Democrat who has made no secret of his ambition is Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who started making moves toward the seat by opening an exploratory committee even before the incumbent officially retired. But it remains to be seen whether Booker will clear the field. Rep. Frank Pallone (D) has made his interest known, and others will likely at least take a look now that the seat is open.

But until there is evidence to the contrary, we reiterate our rating of Currently Safe for the Democrats in the general election. Though Gov. Chris Christie (R) looks to be well-positioned in 2013, the Garden State has proven to be very difficult terrain for Republicans in Senate and presidential races, and it would take an extraordinary set of circumstances for this open Senate seat to fall into GOP hands.