William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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ANOTHER OPENING, ANOTHER SHOW – AT 8:28 AM. ET:  Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey has announced that he will not run for re-election in 2014, creating a Senate opening that a rising Democratic star hopes to fill.  Lautenberg is 89.  From The Hill:

Sen. Frank Lautenberg's (D-N.J.) decision Thursday to retire from the Senate opens a clearer path to the Democratic nomination for Newark Mayor Cory Booker, but a difficult primary fight could still lay ahead...

...Booker (D) had already indicated he'd run whether or not Lautenberg retired, and likely faces a much easier path to the seat now that the senior senator has made the decision to bow out.

And...

But polls conducted before Lautenberg's announcement showed Booker was a clear favorite among Democrats.

A Monmouth University Polling Institute survey released Thursday, prior to Lautenberg's announcement, found Booker led Lautenberg by a nearly 2-to-1 margin. He had 40 percent support to Lautenberg's 25 percent support. Every other potential contender had low single-digit support.

COMMENT:  This is not an ordinary Senate opening.  Cory Booker is African-American and, in a liberal state like New Jersey, will probably be elected to the Senate, making him the only black Democratic senator.  (Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina is a Republican.)

Booker is also known to harbor fierce national ambitions.  Election to the Senate makes him an automatic candidate for a future national ticket.

The bottom line is that the Democratic Party can't win a national election without the black vote.  African-Americans therefore have enormous clout in the selection of national candidates.  A Hillary Clinton-Cory Booker ticket for 2016?  I wouldn't be at all surprised.  Group politics is pretty much the way the Dems play the game. 

February 15,  2013