“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," Gov. Chris Christie (R) declared on Tuesday.
The governor was responding to a question about the cost of holding an October special election to fill the vacancy created by the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, which according to one estimate, could be in the ballpark of $24 million.
The Christie of 2009 might not be a fan of the Christie of 2013's decision.
"The Daily Show" on Wednesday flagged audio from a 2009 press conference in which then governor-elect Christie said he didn't think a responsible governor would call for a pricey special election.
"I don't think any responsible governor at this point would call for a special election that would cost $10 million," Christie said at the time.
The context: Christie was railing against a Democratic proposal to require the governor to fill Senate vacancies by naming someone of the same political party as the senator being replaced. The measure was introduced by Assemblyman John McKeon (D), whose justification was the high cost of holding special elections. McKeon introduced the bill just three weeks after Christie's election.
Christie called it "political lying," and dismissed the threat of an expensive special as a real factor in McKeon's maneuverings.
"You really think that is John McKeon’s intent on this?" asked Christie. "He decided -- he woke up one morning and decided ‘geez you know, I’m worried that a governor might call a special election for a Senate race and that might cost 10 million dollars, so let me put a stop to that potential taxpayer waste immediately’?"
Christie told reporters Thursday that he was talking about then-Gov. Jon Corzine (D) replacing himself in the Senate when he said he didn't think a responsible governor would call for an $10 million special election.
"They were talking about this in the context of Governor Corzine's conduct when he replaced himself," Christie said. "And my statement was, 'well, no responsible governor would spend $10 million on a special election to replace themselves. That was the context of the statement."
Christie dismissed the way the clip was presented on the "The Daily Show," saying "it doesn't make any sense in terms of what we are talking about here."
Still, by bringing up the price tag of a special election and noting that it wasn't reasonable to call for such a costly event, Christie opened his recent decision up to even more criticism. Democrats have already been railing against the costs imposed by the October election, especially with the regular election scheduled for just weeks later.
The governor's justification for his Tuesday decision was that seating an elected senator as soon as possible is too important to let concerns about costs get in the way.
Below are his 2009 remarks in context, courtesy of the Newark Star-Ledger.