Declaring a strong desire to deliver New Jersey voters an elected senator in short order, Gov. Chris Christie (R) announced Tuesday that he is setting a special election to fill the late-Sen. Frank Lautenberg's seat for October, with a primary slated for August.

"I want to have an elected senator as soon as possible," Christie told reporters at a news conference. He announced the primary would be held on Aug. 13, while the special general election will follow on Oct. 16.

"I firmly believe that the decision that needs to be made in Washington are too great to be determined by an appointee for a period of 18 months," the governor said.

Christie's decision spares him having to worry about a top Democratic Senate recruit appearing on the ballot on Nov. 5, something that could boost the hopes of state Sen. Barbara Buono (D), Christie's underdog opponent in the governor's race.

But the governor also opens himself up to criticism from Democrats over the price tag of holding a separate election, in the month before a normal election is slated, no less. Holding special primary and general elections could cost nearly $24 million, according to an estimate from the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services.