Only a day after New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) passed away, Gov. Chris Christie (R) held a news conference earlier this afternoon to announce his Senate succession plans. While saying he had the legal authority to appoint a successor to serve the balance of Lautenberg’s term, the governor instead called a special election, saying that “18 months was too long a time for an appointed senator to serve.”
Therefore, within the legal time constraints of calling the special election today, the nominating vote will be Aug. 13, with the special general senatorial election following on Oct. 16. The regular general election, featuring Christie himself, is Nov. 5.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker will run for the Democrats. Likely entrants are representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ-6) and Rush Holt (D-NJ-12). Since the US House members will not have to risk their seats to run in the short special election, some of the Republicans might also enter the race.
Christie’s move is a good one for his own campaign. He allows the people a vote, but avoids a spike in Democratic turnout because the special Senate vote will not conflict with his election.
The governor also said he will soon appoint a replacement to serve until the special election concludes. He stipulated that he will not put a “caretaker” condition upon his eventual selection. Therefore, the person he appoints could also run in the special election.