• U.S.

Frank Lautenberg

2 minute read
Thomas Kean

When Frank Lautenberg first ran for the Senate in 1982, he ran against a friend of mine, Millicent Fenwick. I campaigned for her–he was a Democrat and I was a Republican–and it was a rough campaign. But when he won, we established a relationship, and over the years he was my go-to guy in the Senate. If you asked Frank to get something done for New Jersey, he would do it. A lot of Congressmen would say, “Sure, I’ll help you out,” but with Frank it happened. A governor likes that kind of Senator. We had disagreements over the years. None of them lasted very long.

Frank, who died June 3 at 89, liked the rough and tumble of politics. In his campaigns, if somebody hit him, he tended to hit back harder. Though he made a career as one of the top businessmen in the state, he came from the streets of Paterson, and he never forgot where he came from. I think when he was writing legislation, he’d think, How does this affect the guy I grew up with? Politicians today read the polls and change their views. Frank never did that. He voted, and people either agreed with him or they didn’t, but he voted his conscience. He loved being a Senator, and he’s going to leave a big void.

Kean was the governor of New Jersey from 1982 to 1990

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