Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a Democrat who was first elected to serve New Jersey in 1982, said in a Thursday statement that he is not seeking re-election next year.
Lautenberg, 89, said he will officially announce his decision in his hometown of Paterson on Friday.
His statement reads in part, "This is not the end of anything, but rather the beginning of a two-year mission to pass new gun safety laws, protect children from toxic chemicals, and create more opportunities for working families in New Jersey. While I may not be seeking re-election, there is plenty of work to do before the end of this term and I'm going to keep fighting as hard as ever for the people of New Jersey in the U.S. Senate."
In recent years, Lautenberg fought for passage of the Zadroga 9/11 Health And Compensation Act, the federal Hurricane Sandy relief bill and gun reform.
Lautenberg, who is the last current senator who was a World War II veteran, first held office from 1982 to 2001 and then returned to the Senate in 2003.
In December, the popular mayor of Newark, Cory Booker, announced he is exploring a Democratic run for Senate.
Booker said in part in a Thursday statement, "On a personal note, Senator Lautenberg has been a strong model of leadership and service to me since before I even considered entering elected office. Since I have been mayor, he has been an invaluable partner in so many of Newark's recent accomplishments and successes. I look forward to continuing to work with him for the remainder of his term in the Senate and for many years to come."
Governor Chris Christie said in a Thursday statement, "Frank Lautenberg and I have had our differences through the years, but I’ve always respected him for his tenacity, devotion to the people of New Jersey and his love for and commitment to public service. I will always be grateful for his doggedness in fighting with me and the delegation to ensure congressional passage of an aid package after Hurricane Sandy that is delivering necessary assistance to our residents. I wish him the best in his retirement."
President Barack Obama praised the outgoing senator in a statement, saying in part, "Frank has fought tirelessly for workers, veterans, members of our military and their families, and immigrants, and he continues to make extraordinary contributions to our nation’s safety, and the health and welfare of our citizens."