Gov. Chris Christie has decided that New Jersey will hold a special primary and election to fill the seat of Senator Frank Lautenberg, who passed away on Monday, rather than appoint someone to finish out his term. He will have to appoint someone to hold down the fort until after the election in October.
This is both good and bad.
GOOD: It’s good that Gov. Chris Christie isn’t going to appoint someone to finish out Lautenberg’s term. A year and half is a long to have an unelected official fill out a major seat in government.
BAD: It’s bad that this will necessitate both a primary and general election, and Christie has compounded this problem by holding a special election in October rather than adding the senatorial race to the regular November election. This will cost New Jersey tax payers an extra $11.9 million dollars.
If I was the sort of guy that got helicopter rides to little league games, maybe I wouldn’t think $11.9 million dollars was a lot of money, and in the scope of a federal budget, it’s not, but when we’re talking about New Jersey (where we’re literally checking the couch cushions for money to deal with school funding, road maintenance, state employee salaries – not to mention Hurricane Sandy clean up and a million other things), an extra twelve million bucks could go far in any number of areas.
And the reason Christie is doing this is down right despicable.
This special election in October is all about Christie making sure there aren’t an excess of Cory Booker fans at the polls on general election day in November. The theory is that if they are, those people will vote for Christie’s opponent, which is not expected to change the outcome, but merely reduce Christie’s margin of victory and hence make him look less powerful when he goes into the 2016 presidential election. He’d like to go in saying, "I won blue state New Jersey by over 10 points, I’m the guy who can take back the White House," but he’s worried that Booker will ruin that. Hence, the extra twelve million New Jersey will have to pull out of the air from who knows where.
Christie is quoted as saying, "I don’t think you can put a price tag on what it’s worth to have an elected person in the United States Senate."
Yes you can: it’s twelve million dollars. And it’s a complete waste.