By David Madden
TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — The New Jersey Supreme Court has decided not to block Governor Chris Christie’s plan for a special election to replace the late Frank Lautenberg in the US Senate.
The special election will remain on October 16th now that New Jersey’s top court has refused to take up a legal challenge to the date.
The day after Lautenberg died earlier this month at age 89, Christie announced he would hold a special election to fill the remainder of the term as soon as legally permissible.
Christie scheduled a mid-August primary and a mid-October election to pick Lautenberg’s successor.
Democrats wanted the October vote pushed back to, they argued, save money and ensure against potential problems at the polls.
Last week a three-judge appellate panel ruled in Christie’s favor, saying he had complied with state law. The state Supreme Court has now issued an order, without comment, allowing the Christie schedule to proceed.
“They decided that it was not a matter imbued with enough public interest or public importance to get their attention, and we think they should have weighed in,” says Democratic Party attorney Peg Schaffer.
In an e-mail, a spokesman for the governor expressed pleasure with the court’s decision, saying it “clearly recognized that Governor Christie acted within the law established by the legislature.”
Christie’s re-election is on the November ballot, and some suggest he set up the senate election so as not to conflict with his own effort.
Christie’s decision on the election process outraged critics on the left and the right. Both sides complained about the cost — $12 million per election for both a primary and general vote.
Some conservatives said that holding the vote this year instead of next would likely cost Republicans any shot of winning the seat.
Many Democrats said they believed the governor didn’t want to appear on the same ballot as the US Senate frontrunner, Democratic mayor Cory Booker of Newark.
As the theory goes, Booker could draw enough Democrats to the polls to make a Christie re-election narrow enough that it could damage his presidential chances, should he decide to run in 2016, and also make it harder for Republicans to win legislative seats in November.