Their long-running war of words has been well documented, but that doesn’t mean Gov. Chris Christie isn’t saddened by the passing today of U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg. Christie was supposed to speak this morning about the role of women in government at the Governor’s Conference for Women, but instead he spoke exclusively about Lautenberg. Other New Jersey leaders are responding as well.

“Today is a sad day for the people of New Jersey,” says Christie. “Whenever we lose someone who’s committed to public service and has been an honest and dedicated public servant as Sen. Lautenberg was it’s a loss for everyone. Most particularly it’s a loss for his wife Bonnie and his family and so our thoughts and prayers are with them today. Whatever we loss we feel as New Jerseyans and whatever loss his colleagues feel in the U.S. Senate is miniscule compared to the loss that his family feels.”

The governor talked about his public fights with Lautenberg, but called him a worthy adversary and a fighter for the people of New Jersey.

Leaders Respond

New Jersey’s junior U.S. Senator is Bob Menendez. He’s a longtime colleague of Lautenberg’s.

“Today I am shaken by the loss of the Senior Senator from New Jersey – a colleague and my good friend and ally,” says Menendez. “Frank Lautenberg loved his job and the people who elected him 5 times, who trusted him to always be on their side, and he always was. He was a man for New Jersey, a man for his time, one of the greatest generation, the last in the Senate to have served in World War II.”

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver considered Lautenberg a true friend.

“It's hard to imagine New Jersey without Frank Lautenberg advocating for the issues important to us all. His energy was relentless,” says Oliver. “His intellect was sharp. His work ethic was an example to us all. I will miss Sen. Lautenberg and his guidance, leadership and friendship. On behalf of the New Jersey General Assembly, I offer our prayers and condolences and will forever remember Sen. Lautenberg as one of New Jersey's finest leaders."

It’s not just Lautenberg’s fellow Democrats who are thanking him for his public service. Republicans are honoring him too.

“America has lost a true New Jerseyan who dedicated his life to public service,” says State Senate GOP Leader Tom Kean. “Until his last days, the resolute Senator served New Jersey honorably, fighting to bring home Superstorm Sandy recovery funding for families and small business owners. Senator Lautenberg was a consistent leader and a man of his convictions. May Frank Lautenberg rest in peace, and let his family know we are praying for them.”

The top Republican in the Assembly is also remembering the late Frank Lautenberg.

“Our state has lost a dedicated servant who served in Congress for almost 30 years.,” says Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick. “We appreciate his service to New Jersey and the United States. On behalf of Assembly Republican caucus, I wish to offer our sincerest condolences to his wife, Bonnie, their children and grandchildren.”