Following the death of longtime legislators and community leaders from around the state praised Lautenberg for his landmark legislation and his continuous work representing the state’s best interests.
Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex), Democratic candidate for Governor, said Lautenberg fought for what he believed in and called the senator an "American hero." She offered her thoughts and prayers for his family.
“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Frank Lautenberg. Senator Lautenberg exemplified the American spirit and his commitment and devotion to the country he loved was unmatched. He always answered the call to serve—first as a soldier in the United States Army during World War II and later as Senator in the United States Senate representing the people of New Jersey," she said. "Senator Lautenberg always stood up for the principles he believed in and fought everyday to improve the lives of everyday New Jerseyans. Frank Lautenberg was an American hero and an icon in New Jersey, and he will be sorely missed."
Newark Mayor Cory Booker also praised Lautenberg for working to enhance the quality of life for all New Jerseyans.
"Senator Lautenberg was a model of leadership and service to me since before I even considered entering elected office. He was a passionate advocate for New Jersey and a crucial and tireless partner who always delivered for the people of Newark. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Lautenberg family," Booker said.
U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-Hopewell Township) called Lautenberg's death a "personal loss as well as a loss for New Jersey and the country.
"I don't think there will ever again be anybody quite like Frank Lautenberg," he said.
Holt said Lautenberg's humble beginnings helped shape him as a person and he was inspired to pay back his country partially by the GI Bill that sent him to Columbia University. He also named a few of his legislative accomplishments and their impact.
“Much will be said about his accomplishments: keeping trains and buses safe, promoting public health, safeguarding chemical plants, keeping cigarettes out of planes, and more. But what stands out in my mind is what Frank did to prevent drunk driving. As part of his transportation work, he established limits on blood alcohol levels. Today you could fill several football stadiums with people who are alive only because of Frank Lautenberg—and not one of them knows who they are," Holt said.
Holt also described Lautenberg's character, calling him "dogged" and said he was well-liked by Senate members. He was respected for fighting what he believed in and doing his "homework" regarding legislation.
“Frank and I worked together on a number of things, so I feel this loss very personally. Frank, we miss you, but your ideas and your legacy live on,” he said.
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Middlesex) was saddened by the news of Lautenberg's death, having known him for decades as both a colleague and friend. He offered condolences to Bonnie Lautenberg and the senator's children and grandchildren.
“Frank Lautenberg was a moral guidepost on so many critical issues. As a leader in the U.S. Senate, his impact was felt on some of the most important issues facing New Jersey and our nation. His work on issues like gun violence prevention, improving our nation’s transit systems and transportation infrastructure, making Americans healthier through anti-smoking initiatives, and rebuilding our state after the devastation of Superstorm Sandy will be recognized for generations. Senator Lautenberg’s dedication to public service was evident in everything he did from his military service, to his philanthropic work, to his time in the U.S. Senate. Frank Lautenberg’s life defined public service and what it means to live the American dream," Pallone said.
“Senator Lautenberg has been at the forefront of some of the most important movements to protect our environment, an issue critical to New Jersey and the nation. I witnessed his commitment to environmental stewardship firsthand when we worked together on legislation to address inequities in the Superfund system so we can better clean up toxic sites throughout the state. Senator Lautenberg and I also worked together to champion the issue of keeping our waterways clean and safe when we introduced the BEACH Act.”
Sen. Thomas Kean Jr.(R-Essex-Morris-Somerset-Union) said that "America has lost a true New Jerseyan who dedicated his life to public service." Kean noted Lautenberg's work in fighting for funding for Superstorm Sandy victims.
“Until his last days, the resolute Senator served New Jersey honorably, fighting to bring home Superstorm Sandy recovery funding for families and small business owners. Senator Lautenberg was a consistent leader and a man of his convictions. May Frank Lautenberg rest in peace, and let his family know we are praying for them," he said.
Assemblyman Dave Rible (R-Monmouth-Ocean) also expressed gratitude for Lautenberg's work for Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts.
“Sen. Lautenberg was an accomplished public servant who served the residents of New Jersey well during his 30-year tenure. More recently, Jersey Shore residents will remember him for his tireless efforts in obtaining crucial federal funding for recovery efforts following the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy," he said. "I extend my deepest condolences to his wife and family."
Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (R-Essex-Morris-Somerset-Union) expressed regret for Lautenberg's family.
“Our state has lost a dedicated servant who served in Congress for almost 30 years. We appreciate his service to New Jersey and the United States. On behalf of Assembly Republican caucus, I wish to offer our sincerest condolences to his wife, Bonnie, their children and grandchildren.”
East Brunswick Mayor David Stahl, a Republican who is running on Tuesday in the 18th District Primary as the Republican nominee for Senate with the hope of replacing Buono, offered condolences.
"Senator Lautenberg served honorably, fighting hard for his convictions. He will be missed and I extend my condolences to his family and friends," he said.
Rutgers University issued a statement referencing Lautenberg's dedication to education.
"Senator Lautenberg was tireless in his commitment to higher education. His support of federal programs to provide financial assistance to students was exemplary," the school said in the statement. "Senator Lautenberg, who was proud to say that he attended college on the GI Bill, knew firsthand the value of higher education and how, with the right programs in place, there is no limit to what a young person can accomplish."
"Senator Lautenberg will be deeply missed by the Rutgers community."
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) New Jersey also chimed in with praise of the senator's work for civil liberties throughout four decades in Congress, calling him a "relentless champion."
"New Jersey has lost a leader defined by his compassion, integrity and concern for society’s most vulnerable," the ACLU said in a statement.
“Sen. Lautenberg constantly made New Jersey proud, not only for standing up for the rights of Americans, but often for leading the charge to preserve those rights,” said ACLU-NJ Executive Director Udi Ofer. “He led with a personal imperative to serve the people who elected him, and his tenacity in doing the right thing on their behalf only sharpened over the years. He never lost sight of where he came from, and he never lost his fire for righting an injustice. Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s tireless fight to strengthen our freedoms has made our country, and New Jersey, a better place for all who live here."
Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin also commended Lautenberg for fighting for justice and equality.
“Senator Lautenberg was a beacon for equality in Congress. He fought for justice with more than simply his vote. He knew bullying in our schools is a scourge, and he stood up to end it. He knew that workplace discrimination and hate crimes erode the freedom of all Americans, so he worked to stop them, session after session," Griffin said. “Nothing better sums up his undying legacy than his 2004 floor speech opposing a federal constitutional amendment banning marriage equality. ‘When we see things that are shameful we should not be too spineless to respond. Senator Lautenberg had spine, and he will be deeply missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends, family, colleagues and the many across New Jersey and across this country who knew and loved him."
Salaam Ismial, director of the National United Youth Council described Lautenberg as much more than a politician and offered prayers to him and his family.
"He was more than just a liberal politician. He was a humanitarian and a friend to the downtrodden members of our society. We asked him to come to a dilapidated housing complex in Newark many years ago where a young person was killed because of a broken elevator. Surprisingly, he came (with) a press corps and raised hell about the conditions and demanded HUD do something about it, and they did. He took a stand on gun violence and we appreciate that. He will be missed,” he said.