Our Governor, Chris Christie has called for a special election for later this year to decide who will fill the seat of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, though he did not say whom he might appoint in the interim. Mr. Christie said, ” he wants to make sure New Jersey voters have a voice and a choice“. He set the primary for Aug. 13th and the general election for Oct. 16th of this year.
Christie faced conflicting state laws in deciding when to have the election. He could have waited until November 2014, or possibly this November. But Christie said it was worth the expense to the state to hold a special election earlier. “The citizens of New Jersey need to have an elected representative to the United States Senate and have it as soon as possible,” he said.
With the special election set, Christie will not have his appointee of choice in the Senate for a full 18-month span. However, the governor ensured that a high-profile Democratic Senate candidate would not be running at the top of the ticket this November, when he and other Republicans are running in the main general election. Such a candidate on the ballot could help attract support to other Democrats running for lower-level office. Christie said he hasn’t decided who he’ll appoint for the interim few months, but that he wasn’t putting “preconditions” on that decision.
Despite the risks, Christie could consider appointing Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a Democrat who announced earlier this year plans to run for Lautenberg’s seat in 2014, said Brigid Harrison, a political scientist at Montclair State University. The move could backfire, she said, but it would help Christie’s image with New Jersey Democrats and African-Americans across the country — especially since history shows it’s hard for a Republican to win a Senate seat in New Jersey.
Political analysts say the list of Republican possibilities includes state Sen. Tom Kean Jr.; U.S. Rep. Chris Smith; former Gov. Christie Whitman; state Sen. Joe Kyrillos, who ran for the U.S. Senate last year; state Sen. Kevin O’Toole; or Bill Baroni, the deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Another possibility could be Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, which would open a spot on Christie’s re-election bid ticket this fall for another Republican. No one has yet begun campaigning for the job publicly. With Lautenberg’s death, the Senate now has 52 Democrats, 45 Republicans and two independents who caucus with the Democrats.
And, just in case some of my fellow New Jerseyans have forgotten; today is Primary Election Day here in New Jersey. Today all registered voters (Republicans & Democrats only) should get out and vote their choice for who will be nominated to run as candidates in the General Election in November for Governor, state legislature, county & township positions. ~dfh