The longest-serving U.S Sen. from New Jersey, Frank Lautenberg, 89, died Monday morning from viral pneumonia, his office announced.
He was the oldest member of the Senate and had been suffering from health problems for the last year.
Lautenberg’s seat will be filled by Republican Gov. Chris Christie.
According to New Jersey’s “The Record:”
Lautenberg is probably best known for his crusade against smoking, including a ban on smoking on airplanes enacted through a series of bills first adopted in 1989. He also battled repeatedly to prevent the privatization or de-funding of Amtrak.
He retired from the Senate in 2000, but later said he immediately regretted the decision. In 2002, when a corruption investigation derailed the re-election campaign of then-Sen. Robert Torricelli, Lautenberg leapt at the chance to get back in the game when party leaders offered it and returned to the upper house.
Lautenberg was a reliable – some might say predictable – Democrat. He was pro-choice and pro-gun control and fierce in his opposition to the war in Iraq launched by a Republican president, George W. Bush. Based on his votes on key social, economic and foreign policy issues, Lautenberg was ranked by National Journal magazine as the fourth most-liberal senator in 2009.