So Chris Christie’s announced the schedule for a special election to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, and short of appointing himself, he’s taken the route most likely to serve his own political interests. Here’s NBC’s report:
Christie announced at a press conference that he had opted against appointing a successor to Lautenberg to serve until the 2014 election, and scheduled a general election on Oct. 16. The primary will be held in August. Christie also said he would appoint an interim senator to serve between now and November, though he explained that he had not decided on that temporary appointee yet.
With this decision, Christie is potentially helping create the conditions for a big win in his re-election contest against Democrat Barbara Buono this November. Without a contested Senate campaign happening at the same time as his own re-election, turnout among Democrats is likely to be far lower, allowing Christie to run up the margin of victory in a race he is already a big favorite to win.
That, in turn, could make him look like a more formidable presidential candidate in 2016 should he choose to run.
Beyond that, it gets Christie off the hook of an obligation to appoint a senator that pleases both his party’s conservative “base” (not just in New Jersey, but nationally) and a general electorate, and gives the former a decent shot to get a conservative senator into office via a low-turnout special election. That will probably, however, be viewed as a consolation prize to right-wingers who wanted him to appoint one of their own to the seat right on up to November 2014 (a legally dubious proposition).
And there’s another problem:
Christie’s decision to hold a special election in October could also be a gamble, leaving the governor open to criticisms of making a self-serving decision and causing a hefty financial cost to the state that could run as high as $24 million for the special election.
Christie said he wasn’t aware of what the cost would be – but in typical Christie fashion, said it didn’t matter.
“I don’t know what the cost would is, and quite frankly I don’t care,” he said. “The cost cannot be measured against the value of having an elected representative in the United States Senate when so many important issues are being debated this year.”
Blah blah blah. Rationalizations aside, Christie looked at the angles and did what was best for Chris Christie. Maybe it’s just a coincidence.