Taxpayers will have to spend an additional $11.9 million for an Oct. 16 special election to replace Sen. Frank Lautenberg, now that Gov. Chris Christie decided against consolidating the vote with the Nov. 5 general election. Democrats charged that the move was all about politics, noting that Christie is on the November ballot seeking his second four-year term as governor. Democrats said the Republican governor wanted to avoid sharing that ballot with a strong Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, such as Newark Mayor Cory Booker or Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., despite the extra expense to the taxpayers. Christie insisted politics was not a consideration in laying out the separate election dates. “The costs associated with having the special election and primary, in my mind, cannot be measured against the value of having an elected member of the U.S. Senate. I don’t know what the costs are and, quite frankly, I don’t care,” Christie said.
Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, a Democrat and another potential U.S. Senate candidate, said the October special election is likely to have low voter participation and she called Christie’s choice “transparently political” and said it will “waste taxpayer money.”
“The November general election date is what’s best for taxpayers and voter turnout. It’s unquestionably the best option, but Governor Christie has chosen to put partisan politics and his self-interest first,” Oliver said.
Assembly Budget Chairman Vincent Prieto, another Democrat, called Christie’s choice “one of the worst instances of fiscal mismanagement I’ve seen in years.”