New Jersey’s special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the death of Frank Lautenberg will go ahead this year as scheduled, after the state Supreme Court declined on Thursday to hear a legal challenge. Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, ordered a special primary election on August 13 and a special general election to be held October 16 – three weeks before the regularly scheduled November election, when Christie himself is up for re-election. Democrats accused Christie of making a political calculation, ensuring he would not appear on the same ballot as a race that might energize Democratic voters by authorizing a special election that will leave taxpayers with a $24 million tab.
In a one-page decision, Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner denied the application by Somerset Democratic Chairwoman Peg Schaffer, who argued that Christie lacked the authority to set the October election.
Schaffer could not be reached immediately for comment.
Christie, a popular governor whose no-nonsense, in-your-face style has catapulted him to national prominence, is widely seen as a strong contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
The governor appointed Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa, also a Republican, to fill the seat in the interim. Chiesa promised not to compete in the special election.