“He doesn’t have to respect me,” Lautenberg said. “But other people were offended by it. And it won me a lot of friends.”
The incumbent senator is expected by many within the state to retire, but he has not yet made his decision, and Booker's December announcement was considered premature and disrespectful by some.
Lautenberg has made no secret of his frustration with Booker, at one point implying the mayor needs a "spanking." He echoed criticism from other Booker detractors that the mayor hasn't spent enough time in his own city.
“I’m going to finish the work I’m doing,” he said. “And he should finish the work he is doing instead of traipsing around the country.”
Booker is known as a prolific traveler, jetting to fundraisers across the nation that often end in grant money coming back to his state. But his trips outside of Newark have sparked the frustration of some city officials and Booker detractors in New Jersey, who say he hasn't done enough to improve the city.