TRENTON, N.J., Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Democrat Frank Lautenberg, at 84 the third oldest member of the U.S. Senate, won a fifth term Tuesday in New Jersey.
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.