Byrne won’t challenge Lautenberg in primary

Former Democratic State Chairman Tom Byrne will not challenge incumbent Frank Lautenberg for his U.S. Senate seat.

Byrne faxed a statement to the Marriot Hotel in Trenton announcing he would not run, where prominent Democratic politicians are holding a rally to demonstrate their solidaritywith Lautenberg. Current Democratic State Chairman Joe Cryan read Byrne’s letter to the crowd.

“Frank Lautenberg has strong support among Democratic voters,” wrote Byrne. “As I have made clear, I have had no desire to do anything other than to run a positive campaign if voters were looking for change. My polling shows that I too have very solid support within the party, but that Democrats in New Jersey value both Sen. Lautenberg’s storng record as well as party unity.

“Futher, I fully appreciate the national Democratic party’s interest in winning enough new Senate seats in targeted states to be able to advance a Democratic president’s agenda. I will not become a candidate for Senate this year. Frank Lautenberg has my full support. I look forward to continuing to make a positive difference for New Jersey in the public arena.”

Byrne had conducted polling last week about his chances in a Democratic primary against Lautenberg.

“The reasoning is that Frank is popular with Democrats and I respect that,” said Byrne, a financial consultant whose father, Brendan T. Byrne, served as Governor from 1974 to 1982.

Morristown Mayor Donald Cresitello remains committed to running in the primary, however, and is still collecting signatures to get on the ballot by the filing deadline on Monday.

Cresitello said that he’s happy that Byrne is not running.

“Hopefully no one else will run,” he said. “If the race is crowded I would have to reconsider, obviously. But if Byrne is not in the race it certainly makes it easier,” he said.

Byrne won’t challenge Lautenberg in primary