Frank Raleigh Lautenberg (born January 23, 1924 in Paterson, NJ) is an American politician. He is a member of the Democratic Party and is a United States Senator from New Jersey serving from 1983 to 2001 and since 2003.
A New Jersey native and the son of poor but hard-working Polish and Russian immigrants, he served in the army in World War II after graduating high school. Then, financed by the GI Bill, he attended and graduated from Columbia University in New York City, with a degree in economics in 1949. He co-founded the successful Automatic Data Processing Company (ADP) and was its president. He was commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey from 1978 to 1982.
In 1982 he received the Democratic nomination for a US senate seat from New Jersey for that year's election. At the time the seat was occupied by Republican Harrison Williams, but he resigned in 1982 after he was implicated in the Abscam scandal. The scandal probably helped Lautenberg's campaign.
Lautenberg won the election. He was reelected in 1988 and again in the Republican landslide year of 1994. He announced his retirement in 2000, and his fellow Democrat and businessman, Jon Corzine, was elected to replace him. Lautenberg unexpectedly returned to politics in 2002, when the other New Jersey senator, Democrat Robert Torricelli, was forced to withdraw his candidacy for reelection over corruption charges, and Lautenberg was drafted to take his place despite his advanced age. The New Jersey Republican Party challenged the replacement of Torricelli's name on the ballet with Lautenberg's, arguing that it came too late according to state election laws. The ballot name change was upheld by the New Jersey State Supreme Court, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up case. Lautenberg won the election, thus becoming one of very few people in recent times to return to the Senate after leaving it.
Lautenberg is well-known as a liberal. He is pro-choice, supports gun control, has introduced many bills to help New Jersey families and bills combatting carjacking and car theft and has criticized the Bush administration on national security issues. He also is known for authoring the Ryan White Act which provides services to AIDS patients.