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‘The People Must Choose’: Christie Opts for Special Election to Fill Senate Seat

The New Jersey governor's decision leaves open another political calculation – what impact might this have on the 2016 presidential campaign.

by
Bill Straub

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June 4, 2013 - 1:42 pm
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WASHINGTON – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie plans to conduct a special election in October to fill the unexpired term of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, provoking a scramble among hopefuls in both parties looking to grab the seat.

Saying “the people must choose,” Christie moved Tuesday to end at least part of the speculation surrounding the vacant post, announcing that a primary will be conducted on Aug. 13, with the survivors facing off on Oct. 16. The victor will fill out the remainder of Lautenberg’s term, which ends in January 2015. Whoever wins likely will seek a full six-year term in the November 2014 election.

The governor also intends to appoint a replacement until the election. His choice is expected later this week, sometime shortly after Lautenberg’s burial on Wednesday. Christie hasn’t indicated whether he intends to choose a caretaker or someone who may vie for the remainder of the unexpired term.

About the only sure thing is Christie will opt for a fellow Republican to replace Lautenberg, a Democrat.

“I’m going to pick a person I believe to be the best person,” he said in making the election announcement. “I do have a list in my head. You all know me. I don’t dawdle.”

The decision puts to rest speculation about the path Christie intended to pursue. New Jersey has conflicting statutes on how to fill an unexpired senatorial term. One allows the governor to make a temporary appointment until the next general election – in this case, Nov. 5. But another state law maintains if the vacancy occurs within 70 days of the primary – it did in this case, the New Jersey primary was Tuesday – the governor can call a special election to fill the vacancy.

There was some speculation that Christie might choose a strong Republican contender and let him or her serve out the remainder of Lautenberg’s unexpired term, giving the GOP a leg up on potential Democratic foes when the seat comes up on Nov. 5, 2014.

Instead he opted for a quick election, maintaining that pending issues are “too great to be determined by an appointee for a period of 18 months.”

“I want to have an elected senator as soon as possible,” he said.

The decision could prove costly – the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services estimates that the combined primary and special election could cost the state $24 million. But it relieves some of the political pressure Christie faced over the timing.

Christie is in the midst of his own re-election campaign. He currently holds what some polls point to as a 30-point lead over his challenger, state Sen. Barbara Buono. But GOP insiders maintained that the governor wanted to avoid conducting the Senate and gubernatorial election on the same day.

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All Comments   (15)
All Comments   (15)
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If he'd done as you guys all want, this is what would or at least could have happened:

1: Christie appoints a Republican to replace Lautenburg.

2. The left goes batshit crazy, complaining that this subverts Democracy, it's incredibly unfair, the new Senator's a racist, homophobe, misogynistic Neo-Nazi.

3. Some Dem decides to run against the unknown, leads in the polls by 25 points, gets the state Democratic Party energized, and excites everyone so that Christie's hated also.

4. Booker or someone announces they're going to run against Christie.

5. Both races go Democrat, and we lost both the Senate seat (which we never really had anyway) and the governor's mansion.

Instead the idiot decided to hold on to one of the two seats, which he himself occupies...are you guys sure you're not California Republicans? You're advocating strategies about as successful as our Party over here, which has argued us into a permanent super-minority status...
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ahhh the Republican Party...the party of betrayal.

It's ironic how many people that during the 2008 and 2012 elections were pointed to as "rising stars" and "future Presidential candidates" are now abandoning the conservative principles that made them popular or even stabbing thier supporters in the back. It's like the minute the talk starts about "so & so in 20--" they stop being conservative and go RINO.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hindenberg vs Hildabeast in 2016!
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Christie shares a gene with Bill & Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Barack Obama, John Kerry and Al Gore. They are narcissists with the world revolving around them and have no connection with reality as to who they are.
The governor loves the stage and will refuse to get off of it, even when he is gonged. He has no loyalty to the Republicans and had none to Romney, it is all about him.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
There is no doubt in my mind that a Democrat governor in a similar situation would have appointed a viable candidate for the entire period. But Republicans don't play by the same rules. The MSM sees to that. It may be that a special election in a heavily Democrat state was the best course for a Republican governor. That said, Christie didn't stick his neck out to try to help the party or head off disastrous policies like the amnesty bill that is pending in the Senate.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'VE NEVER SEEN A POLITICIAN THAT GAVE A HOOT ABOUT A TAXPAYERS PERSONAL MONEY !
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
A common self serving criminal, I mean politician who would rather waste taxpayers' 24 million dollars for an election whose term lasts until 2014 than to make a decision that may come back to haunt him. How spineless. He will switch and expects to get the Dem's nomination over Hill & Bill's dead bodies.

Teachers who lost to his so-called austerity should be pissed.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
----"About the only sure thing is Christie will opt for a fellow Republican to replace Lautenberg, a Democrat."----

----"Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, of Nevada, who needs all the Democratic votes he can get on the floor, expressed pleasure with Christie’s decision."----

The first quote is not backed by anything but hope. The second shows Christie's priorities. He is willing and eager to help Harry Reid destroy the country in order to make sure that his 30 point lead for re-election is not reduced to 25. After all, another Republican vote in the Senate [and taking one away from the Democrats sure would help what is supposedly Christie's party.

That does not mean that his chances of getting the presidential nomination have fallen. Since the last Republican National Convention, the rules have changed, and the Institutional Republicans can veto nominees regardless of the wishes of the base. But he is not going to become president; between Democrat vote fraud and the walkout of the base.

Bugger him 4 ways; long, wide, deep, and continuous.

Subotai Bahadur
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...the Institutional Republicans can veto nominees regardless of the wishes of the base."
Do they dare? The establishment candidates, including presidential, senate, and house will be voted down, and the Republican party will go the way of the Dodo.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Fat Boy passed on his chance to appoint "Mooch" to the senate to give her a "running start" for her 2016 Presidential bid.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you can't offer anything better than name calling, please take your childish comments over to the Huff Post.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Today is primary day in NJ. Now we will have another primary in mid-August and the special election in mid-October. Then the regular election on ELECTION day. These two low turnout elections could produce surprises.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
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