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Edwards’ son of a senator

Special to the DailyThree-term U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., left. is taking another run for the office. As always, his son, Josh, will be at his side. Josh Lautenberg has lived in the Vail Valley for 12 years. He and his family live in Edwards.
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Josh Lautenberg of Edwards is Back East working on the campaign of his father, former-Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey.

A three-term senator, Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., was thrust into the Senate race about 20 minutes after the New Jersey Democrats – and everyone else – watched a now-disgraced Sen. Robert Toricelli allegedly take a bribe from a mafia figure on videotape.

It’s wonderfully ironic, Josh Lautenberg says, mostly because his father and Toricelli hate each other. Frank Lautenberg even called Toricelli a “child” and an “embarrassment to the United States Senate.”



Now, Toricelli is being replaced in the race by the one man on this planet he could not abide.

“That’s the last thing Toricelli wanted,” says Josh Lautenberg.



Frank Lautenberg jumped into the race after the deadline to declare himself as a candidate. Backing Douglas Forrester, the GOP challenger who thought he had the race won when Toricelli was caught with a fistful of mob money, the Republicans sued, but lost 7-0 in the New Jersey Supreme Court.

So Frank Lautenberg entered the race six to 12 points ahead, depending on whose poll you believe. No poll shows him behind.

“He said it’s the best campaign staff he’s ever had,” says Josh Lautenberg.



Once upon a time, Frank Lautenberg was CEO of ADP Corp., a huge information and payroll service on the East Coast.

When he hit 58 years old – about the time most guys are thinking of retiring or having a mid-life crisis – he was thinking of running for U.S. Senate, which is not an average mid-life crisis. A political kingmaker of sorts for years, active behind the scenes, he now wanted to take his own run at the throne.

“He sat down with my three sisters and me at dinner one night and told us what he was thinking of running for political office,” says his son. “We were thinking something like zoning board or city council.”

Think again.

“I was 13 and I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever heard. And as it turned out, it was,” Josh Lautenberg adds. “He wanted everyone on board. We all worked the campaign. That was 1982 and my job was to go to events and shake hands with everyone I could.”

Frank Lautenberg won in 1982, again in 1988 and once more in 1994. He retired in 2000.

Upon retirement, at 76, he told Josh he was afraid of getting old.

“He said he felt like a kid sitting on the sidelines with a twisted ankle,” says Josh Lautenberg, adding that his father is not a man with a natural aptitude for leisure.

So he played golf and visited his eight grandchildren, which was nice. But he wasn’t in the action anymore, his son says, and it was making him crazy.

Politics is the only sport adults should be allowed to play, and now Frank is back in the game.

By the time you read this, Josh Lautenberg will be back on the campaign trail, in front of New Jersey crowds three or four times a day, speaking to anyone who’ll listen, shaking every hand that’s extended, part of what his father said is the best campaign team he’s ever had. Four of his father’s old hands walked away from their jobs to help head the campaign. The New Jersey Governor’s Office loaned him four of their top people.

“We talked about three hours after he announced he was getting into the race,” says Josh Lautenberg. “I asked him, “Do you really want to do this?’ He said, “All I can think about is getting sworn in in January and getting back to work.'”


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