Frank R. Lautenberg, who fought the alcohol and tobacco industries and promoted Amtrak as a five-term United States senator from New Jersey, died on Monday morning in Manhattan. He was 89. [New York Times]

Frank Lautenberg, considered a liberal.

Frank Lautenberg, considered a liberal.

THE NEW JERSEY senator was the Senate’s last surviving veteran of World War II. Frank Lautenberg was known as a liberal.

He helped get the ban against smoking on airlines passed, and supported George McGovern by donating $90,000 to his campaign.

For a man who started out poor, a son of Jewish immigrants from Poland and Russia, you might say he captured the American dream for himself.

When asked once why he had decided to enter politics at 58, he said he had been giving money to liberals like Mr. McGovern, Birch Bayh, Edward M. Kennedy and Gary Hart. “If I’m willing to support them,” he asked rhetorically, “why shouldn’t I support myself?” [New York Times]

Gov. Chris Christie will appoint his replacement, which everyone assumes will be a Republican, bringing the Senate to 46 GOP, 52 Democrats, with 2 Independents.

Statement by the President on the Passing of Senator Lautenberg

Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Senator Frank Lautenberg, a proud New Jerseyan who lived America’s promise as a citizen, and fought to keep that promise alive as a senator.

The son of working-class immigrants, Frank joined the Army during World War II, went to college on the GI Bill, and co-founded one of America’s most successful companies. First elected to the Senate in 1982, he improved the lives of countless Americans with his commitment to our nation’s health and safety, from improving our public transportation to protecting citizens from gun violence to ensuring that members of our military and their families get the care they deserve. Michelle and I extend our deepest condolences to Bonnie, the Lautenberg family, and the people of New Jersey, whom Frank served so well.