(CNN) – Rep. Frank Pallone received a crucial endorsement Monday in his longshot bid for the U.S. Senate in New Jersey.
The Democratic congressman, who's running in a special Senate election to fill the remainder of the late-Sen. Frank Lautenberg's term, got the backing of Lautenberg's family.
The family announced its support for Pallone in a lengthy statement released Monday, saying most of the candidates in the Democratic primary are "hardworking, progressive leaders."
"But only one of them stands out as ready to continue Frank Lautenberg's progressive leadership in the U.S. Senate. That candidate is Congressman Frank Pallone," the statement read. "We are saying: Stick with Frank."
It's not a big surprise that Lautenberg's family chose not to endorse the Democratic frontrunner, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, given that Booker was considering a Democratic challenge to Lautenberg next year. In the months before the senator's death in June, the relationship between Booker and Lautenberg remained tense, as the Newark mayor gained a bigger profile and spoke publicly about his thoughts on 2014.
The family said Pallone, who's now in his 14th term in the House, most lines up with Lautenberg's values, including the late senator's focus on being a "workhorse, not a showhorse."
"Pallone knows that gimmicks and celebrity status won't get you very far in the real battles that Democrats face in the future," the statement read. "While it may not always attract glamorous headlines, Frank knows that to be effective you must put New Jersey and your principles first, not your own glory."
Pallone, Booker, and Rep. Rush Holt face off in the Democratic primary next month, with the special election to take place in October. Two polls conducted last month indicated Booker far ahead of Pallone and Holt in the race for the Democratic Senate nomination.
– CNN's Candy Crowley, Ashley Killough and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.