The Washington Post

An October governor’s election in New Jersey? Not going to happen.

Some New Jersey Democrats have come up with a novel idea: If Gov. Chris Christie (R) wants to spend millions holding an October special election, why not move his own election from November to October to save money?

It's an interesting plan worth looking at in a bit more detail. But the bottom line is that it's simply not going to happen.

(Peter Ackerman/AP)

"I think the chances of that are only slightly better than having the official dish of New Jersey be foie gras," said Rutgers University political scientist Ross Baker.

Democrats were up in arms when Christie called for an October special Senate election instead of holding it in November. The decision will cost the state an extra $12 million, according to one estimate.

State Sen. Shirley Turner (D) has a remedy: Move the November general election to Oct. 16, the date of the Senate election, sparing the state the added costs.

Her bill cleared a committee on Monday and the full Senate will vote on it Thursday. But the trouble for Turner is that Christie has already rejected the idea.

"There’s like usually what, like 3,000 bills or so that are introduced in every session? This is one of them that will be on the ash heap as well," the governor said earlier this month.

Democrats have charged that Christie played politics when he called for the October election. Having a Senate race that could gin up Democratic enthusiasm coincide with his own reelection, the thinking goes, was something Christie wanted to avoid.

“Governor Christie’s October surprise special election -- on a Wednesday, less than three weeks before the regular General election where his name is on the ballot -- is all about naked political ambition for national office,” said Turner in a statement.

Christie has defended his decision, arguing that the timeline he set up ensures that New Jersey will have an elected senator as soon as possible.

"I can’t believe I’ve been accused of being self-serving," he said at a press conference last week.

Some Democrats have taken legal action against Christie's decision. It remains to be seen whether anything will come of it. An appeals court has already rejected the lawsuit.

By introducing the measure, Turner will help Democrats keep Christie's decision in voters' minds, even if it is doomed for legislative failure. That said, it's not a surefire tactic.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll showed that while more than six in 10 New Jersey voters said Christie's decision to hold an October election was more politics than principle, 50 percent said they approved of the decision.

Turner also introduced a second bill that would do away with Senate special elections and compel the governor to appoint a senator of the same party as the person being replaced, an idea another Democrat unsuccessfully proposed in 2009. It's not likely to be signed this time, either.

There are some yet-to-be-answered questions about the gubernatorial race in New Jersey this year. But when the election will be held is not one of them.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.



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