June 4, 2013

As expected, Gov. Chris Christie has called for a special election in October to fill the seat of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D), who died on Monday.

In a move that will cost New Jersey an extra $24 million to hold the primary in August and then the special election on Oct. 16th, only a few weeks before Christie's own November re-election bid.

Christie announced that a special primary election will be held on Aug. 13 with an Oct. 16 general election to fill the seat,ending a debate over conflicting state lawsand the possibility that the Senate election would be the same day as the November 2013 election. A nonpartisan analysis puts the cost for the special primary and general election at almost $24 million.

“This is about guaranteeing the people of New Jersey a choice and a voice in Washington," Christie said.

Christie said that politics did not factor into the decision to call the October special election. But scheduling the special election for November would have set up the possibility of popular Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D), a potential Democratic Senate candidate, running statewide at the same time that Christie faces presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee Barbara Buono (D) for the governorship. Christie is leading Buono by 30 points in recent polls, but the presence of the popular Booker on the ballot could have helped Buono and helped Democratic state legislative candidates.

“I will not play politics with this," Christie said, stressing that New Jersey needed an elected senator for the next 18 months.

Isn't it funny how cash-strapped austerity freaks can always find cash when it suits their purposes? I wonder how many out-of-work teachers could be put back on the clock with that kind of cash infusion? Oh, well. They are only teachers, right? Republicans aren't thrilled with his decision and so now he will get fifty lashes from the conservative apparatchiks.

Republicans Fuming Over Chris Christie's Senate Decision

Republicans are fuming over New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's decision to hold an early special election to fill the seat of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, with several Washington-based operatives suggesting he's putting his own interests ahead of the GOP's. The decision to hold a separate special election in October 2013—just two weeks before his own election — would give any interested Republican candidates little time to announce, organize a campaign, and raise the necessary money to take on a top-tier Democrat, likely Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
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.

I wouldn't count on the New Jersey bully to go down quite so easily. And Nate Silver makes a case for Christie's decision being that he doesn't want Booker voters messing up his chance to win seats back for his own party in NJ.

While some national Republicans are annoyed with Mr. Christie’s decision, they may not be privy to all the information he had about which Republican candidates might have been interested in Mr. Lautenberg’s seat. It’s plausible that Mr. Christie could have helped a reasonably good G.O.P. nominee to a narrow victory. But if none were interested in the race, it may have been a lost cause.

It may be reasonable to infer, then, that Mr. Christie evaluated the Republican field and did not like what he saw — and that Mr. Booker is poised to win the Senate seat with relative ease.

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