Newark mayor Cory Booker might well be heartened by a poll released Wednesday that indicates that he holds a significant lead over incumbent U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg in a hypothetical competition for the Democratic primary in 2014.
The poll indicated that if the election were held now, Booker would be favored by 51 percent, with Lautenberg receiving 30 percent.
Lautenberg is up for reelection next year and Booker, who is 43 and has developed a reputation as one of the nation’s up-and-coming African-American politicians, has made it clear that he is considering a run for the seat.
The poll, which was conducted by Quinnipiac College, was released on Lautenberg’s 89th birthday. Lautenberg is currently the oldest member of the Senate.
The senator’s job performance received a 50 percent approval rating from the poll’s respondents. However, 45 percent said Lautenberg should not run for another term in the Senate.
The potential rivalry between the two Democrats has produced some sparks. When Lautenberg was asked whether he considered Booker’s making public his interest in the Senate seat an act of disrespect, the senator compared the situation to disciplining children.
"I have four children; I love each one of them. I can't tell you that one of them wasn't occasionally disrespectful, so I gave them a spanking and everything was OK," Lautenberg told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The Newark mayor has called Lautenberg a "good senator" who has been "loyal." Still, it has been clear that Booker is interested in the Senate seat. Although he has not announced his candidacy, Booker has filed paperwork to form a Senate campaign committee.
"Lautenberg gets an OK job-approval rating and favorability," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "But voters don't think he should seek six more years in the Senate."
When voters were asked specifically about Lautenberg's age, 71 percent said it would be difficult for him perform the job capably. On the other hand, just 21 percent said Lautenberg's age gives him "the experience and wisdom" to be a good senator.
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(Photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images)