So much for his claims of being a fiscal hawk. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie decided to hold a special election in October to fill the vacant seat of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg, leaving a Republican candidate little time to mount a campaign. The election will cost about $24 million, and his decision flies in the face of legislation he signed last year to consolidate elections to save taxpayers money. So, why would he do such a thing? He doesn’t want a surge of Democrat turn out for his own election in November.
Christie announced at a Tuesday press conference that the election to fill Lautenberg’s seat will be held Oct. 16, just before his own gubernatorial election on Nov. 4. The primaries would be scheduled for Aug. 13. Christie acknowledged he was legally able to schedule a special election in November 2014, but he wanted New Jersey voters to elect their senator as soon as possible. Christie was less clear about whether he was legally allowed to schedule an election to coincide with his own, emphasizing that he didn’t want to waste any time in seating the newly elected member. On several occasions, he repeated his decision had nothing to do with politics.
“There’s no political purpose. The political purpose is to give the people a voice,” Christie said. “The issues facing the United States Senate are too important not to have an elected representative making those decisions.”
The governor’s decision, along with growing GOP expectations that his appointee will be a placeholder, means that the GOP’s chance at a pickup now looks like a long shot. But Christie protected his own interests by scheduling a separate 2013 election, ensuring that [Corey] Booker wouldn’t usher a surge of Democratic voters that could hurt Christie’s November prospects.
That did little to mollify Republicans with a stake in retaking the Senate next year. While none wanted to be quoted publicly, all dripped with disdain for Christie’s decision, calling it self-serving. And several pointed to the fact that holding an extra election one month earlier could cost the state about $25 million–a price tag that could dent his image as a fiscal hawk.
“I think this ends his 2016 chances. It’s year after year with this guy,” complained one senior Republican official. (Read More)
Oh yes, it’s so important to have an elected Senator in office, rather than one that’s appointed, it can’t wait three weeks. Yeah, right.
Christie also said he doesn’t really care what it costs to hold a special election. He ought to pay for it out of his own campaign coffers, then he’d care.