Holt announces run for NJ Senate

WASHINGTON -- Congressman Rush Holt has become the first Democrat to officially announce that he is running for Senate to replace Frank Lautenberg.

Holt sent an email this morning seeking support and the 1,000 signatures for the petition needed to run.

"Today, I ask for your support as I seek to serve as your Senator in that seat. The reason is simple: I believe I am the best candidate to continue the passionate advocacy for progressive values that Sen. Lautenberg exemplified," Holt wrote.

In trying to grab the mantle of the champion of the left, like Lautenberg, Holt will face competition from Congressman Frank Pallone, a fellow Democrat who was close to Lautenberg and has also long touted his own liberal record.

By contrast, Newark Mayor Cory Booker has cast himself as a problem solver willing to work across party lines.

It will be interesting to see how the unusual August primary -- which will likely be heavy on the most active Democrats because of it's strange timing -- affects each candidates' message.

Will the party faithful lean left? Or will Booker's personal popularity and post-partisan pitch win out?

Holt, a congressman from Hopewell, in Central New Jersey has been in the House for 14 years. He was once the assistant director of the Princeton Plasma Physical Laboratory, leading to one of New Jersey's most recognizable bumper stickers: "My Congressman IS a Rocket Scientist."

A Democratic source has said Pallone will also run and Booker's campaign confirmed that he is also collecting signatures, though neither of them have made an official announcement.

On the Republican side, Steve Lonegan is the only candidate to so far officially enter the race.

Expect more announcements to come quickly.