With just over half the vote counted, Lautenberg had 55 percent of the vote to 44 percent for former U.S. Rep. Dick Zimmer, The Star-Ledger of Newark reported. Lautenberg, surrounded by his children and grandchildren, claimed victory.
During the campaign, Lautenberg ducked Zimmer's challenges to debate, finally agreeing to two face-offs. One was broadcast only on radio and the other, on New Jersey Network, the state PBS outlet, at 8 p.m. on Saturday evening.
Lautenberg grew up in a blue-collar family in New Jersey, went to college on the G.I. Bill after World War II service and became a millionaire with his check-processing business, ADP.
In 1982, in his first try for elected office, he defeated Rep. Millicent Fenwick for the Senate. During the race, he suggested that the 72-year-old Fenwick was too old.
In the Senate, Lautenberg has been a workhorse, especially known for legislation banning smoking on airlines. He retired in 2000 but ran again in 2002 when Sen. Robert Torricelli, dogged by an ethics scandal, decided not to seek a second term.
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