Andrews announced this evening that he intends to challenge the 84-year-old senator in the June 3 Democratic primary.
“As New Jersey elects a United States Senator this year, people from all over the state have expressed the desire to have real choices based on a positive, substantive campaign,” Andrews said in a statement.
“After consulting with family, friends, supporters and people from all points of view, I have decided that I will place my name and my credentials before the people of New Jersey to serve as their new United States Senator.”
Andrews, a nine-term congressman from South Jersey, has long harbored ambitions for statewide office. He narrowly lost to former Gov. Jim McGreevey in the 1997 Democratic gubernatorial primary – and was mentioned as a possible contender to replace former Senator Robert Torricelli’s name on the 2002 Senate ballot in New Jersey, before Lautenberg was tapped instead.
In recent days, there were growing hints of an Andrews candidacy: He was the only Democrat from the New Jersey delegation that didn’t attend Lautenberg’s re-election kickoff event on Monday. The other six Democrats in the delegation, along with Gov. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.), have endorsed Lautenberg.
Andrews will likely make a point of Lautenberg's age in a campaign -- the senator will be 90 years old at the end of the next term -- while Lautenberg supporters have privately pointed to Andrews' past support of the Iraq war as one of his biggest vulnerabilities.
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