Frank Lautenberg's Family Dismisses Cory Booker as a 'Showhorse'

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The family of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg threw its support behind the underdog in the race to replace him, insinuating a strong disdain for frontrunner Cory Booker and his perceived self-promotion. Lautenberg's family backed New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone over the Newark mayor in this passive-aggressive statement on Monday:

"Frank Pallone knows that gimmicks and celebrity status won’t get you very far in the real battles that Democrats face in the future ... While it may not always attract glamorous headlines, Frank knows that to be effective you must put New Jersey and your principles first, not your own glory."

Polls show Booker is running away with the New Jersey Senate Democratic primary, but the battle is just now getting juicy. The Lautenbergs' mention of "gimmicks," "celebrity," and "showhorse" clearly point at Booker, a frequent guest on Sunday talk shows — and his Twitter specifically. Booker often and unabashedly retweets others' praises of his work. Just look at these examples from the past day:

This isn't even the first time the Lautenbergs and Booker have battled. The rising Democratic star originally garnered Lautenberg's animosity when he announced he would explore a run for the Senate in 2014 — this, despite the fact that Lautenberg was still alive and had yet to announce his resignation. The announcement was seen as "self-absorbed and disrespectful," one unnamed Lautenberg aide said at the time.

So it seems that even after the Senator's death, the Lautenberg family holds quite the grudge. Ironically, the family's obvious dislike of someone so intimately involved in Twitter reads much like a passive-aggressive subtweet, calling out Booker without actually mentioning him specifically.

“Frank Lautenberg followed three fundamental principles as New Jersey’s U.S. Senator: stay true to his progressive values, put New Jersey first, and be a workhorse, not a showhorse,” the statement reads.

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Booker's popularity as a "showhorse," of course, hinges entirely on his TV and social media prowess. Though Newark has a population of less than 300,000, Booker has amassed 1.4 million followers, partly owing to his seemingly super-heroic ability to save dogs from the cold and old ladies from burning buildings.

So if this tiff turns into an all-out Twitter fight, the Lautenberg family would be as much underdogs as, well, Frank Pallone is against Booker.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.