Saying it was “not an easy decision,” Mr. Lautenberg’s family chose to support the House Democrat over Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who is the odds-on favorite to win the Democratic nomination in August ahead of a special election in October.
“Most of the candidates in the Democratic field have proven themselves as hard-working, progressive leaders who care deeply about New Jersey,” the family said in a statement released by Mr. Pallone’s 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.”
Gov. Chris Christie appointed state Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa, a Republican, to fill the Senate seat in the interim. Last month, Mr. Chiesa was among 14 Senate Republicans who voted in favor of sweeping immigration reform.
A congressman since 1988, Mr. Pallone is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the top Democrat on the Subcommittee on Health.
He faces an uphill battle against Mr. Booker, a rising star in the Democratic party who announced his intention to run for the Senate before Mr. Lautenberg — age 89 at the time of his death — announced plans to retire.
“Frank Pallone worked with Frank Lautenberg for many years,” the Lautenberg family said. “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.”