Governor Chris Christie (R) decided to move as fast as possible to let the people of New Jersey choose a replacement for Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) who recently passed away. During a press conference Tuesday afternoon Christie announced that the special election would take place on October 16th, with the primary to be held on August 13th.
This seems to be a very smart political move for Christie. One of the other options was to hold the election this November when the gubernatorial and several important state legislative races are taking place. Holding the special election the same day as the normal November election could easily have helped drive up Democratic turnout, hurting Republicans down ballot.
At the same time Democrats can’t complain about a quick special election. The sooner the special election takes place, the quicker Christie’s temporary senator can theoretically be replaced. Christie could have conceivably pushed back the election until November 2014 giving his temporary replacement the maximum amount of time in the Senate.
Finally, Christie is able to wrap the entire decision in a solid small ‘d’ democratic principle that the people should choose who represents them. Christie said the job of Senator is too important “not to have an elected representative.” This how a democracy should work. Senators appointed by governors lack true legitimacy.
Christie has yet to announce who he will appoint to serve as a placeholder for the next roughly a 100 days.
Photo by Bob Jagendorf under Creative Commons license