Lautenberg: 'Nobody' can challenge Christie in NJ

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., speaks during a news conference at Newark Liberty International Airport, in Newark, N.J. in 2010. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

WASHINGTON -- As recently as September Sen. Frank Lautenberg was urging fellow New Jersey Democrats to “fight back” against Gov. Christie.

“The governor and the Republicans are not on the same planet we are,” he told fellow Democrats at the party’s national convention, according to my old colleagues Asbury Park Press.

But given Christie’s sky-high poll numbers, I asked Lautenberg Tuesday which Democrat he thinks could run against Christie in 2013.

“Right now, it looks like nobody,” Lautenberg said with a laugh.

Lautenberg, who has taken pride in being one of the few Democrats willing to step into the ring with Christie, said he’s dropping the gloves and praised the governor’s work after superstorm Sandy, noting that the public also seems to enjoy the way the combative governor works.

“We hadn’t been friendly, but I have to acknowledge that he did a really splendid job of managing the problems that we had,” Lautenberg said in an interview in the Capitol.

Lautenberg said he and Christie spoke and that he plans to work more cooperatively with the governor.

“Though the fact that he has a sharp tongue and a quick wit, his poll numbers indicate that people like what he’s doing and like him for that, and so we can’t avoid that and we’re going to march on and solve the problems together. That’s our mission,” Lautenberg said. He added, “he and I have talked on the phone and I’m pleased to have that happen and we’ve turned much more cooperative.”