Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), 89, will end his decades-long career in the U.S. Senate next year, according to a statement issued by his office on Thursday.

“I will be traveling to my hometown of Paterson tomorrow to announce that I will not seek re-election in 2014," he said. "This is not the end of anything, but rather the beginning of a two-year mission to pass new gun safety laws, protect children from toxic chemicals, and create more opportunities for working families in New Jersey."

The World War II veteran added: "While I may not be seeking re-election, there is plenty of work to do before the end of this term and I'm going to keep fighting as hard as ever for the people of New Jersey in the U.S. Senate."

Lautenberg's announcement opens the door to what looks to be a heated Democratic primary battle featuring some of New Jersey's best known political voices, including Rep. Frank Pallone and Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who announced his intentions in December.

It's not the first time Lautenberg has retired from the Senate, but it's probably his last. He resigned in 2000 but returned two years later after Democrats put him up for Sen. Robert Torricelli's (D-NJ) seat when he landed in hot ethical water over accepting gifts.


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