Rep. Frank Pallone, looking for an opening in a New Jersey Democratic Senate primary contest led by Newark Mayor Cory Booker, is touting his long experience in Congress.
“I think we need an experienced legislator” in the Senate, Pallone, a 25-year House veteran, said in a candidate debate on Aug. 5.
Booker “talks about being mayor of Newark, and I understand that he feels that that qualifies him, but I don’t think it’s the same as having been in Congress and actually worked with a lot of the congressmen,” said Pallone, who’s worked on health-care issues and is a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
There are 52 senators in the current 113th Congress who previously served in the House, according to a Political Capital analysis. Pallone served in the House with 44 of them.
“Half the people in the Senate now are actually former members of Congress, who I know and I’ve worked on with legislation over the years,” Pallone said.
The list includes Ed Markey of Massachusetts, who was elected to the Senate in June after serving more than 36 years in the House — the longest House tenure by any senator in history. Pallone has more House service than the other 51 senators who served in the House.
Rep. Rush Holt, with more than 14 years in the House, says he is the “progressive” Democratic candidate in the race. The fourth Democrat, state Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, has called attention to her being the only woman in the Democratic contest. New Jersey has never had a female senator.
They are competing for the seat of the late Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who had never served in the House. His family, dismissing Booker as something of a “showhorse,” has endorsed Pallone with the message: “Stick with Frank.”