Editorials: Let’s not give Chris Christie a pass for election chicanery | Rob Richie/Salon.com

On October 16th – a Wednesday, no less – New Jersey voters are being asked to go to the polls to select a new U.S Senator to replace Jeffrey Chiesa, Gov. Chris Christie’s stand-in for the long-time Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg, who died earlier this year. Bizarrely, this oh-so-special election takes place just 20 days before these same voters will be asked to return to the polls for the regularly scheduled election for governor and state legislature. The cost to New Jersey taxpayers? Some $12 million. The adverse impact on voter turnout for having two separate elections in 20 days? Significant. The partisan calculation behind the election date? Blatant. It’s hard to know when we’ll hit bottom in shameless manipulation of our electoral laws by leaders of both major parties, but let’s hope it doesn’t get much lower than Gov. Christie’s “datemander.” When announcing his election schedule last spring, Christie justified the October 16th date with his professed belief that New Jersey voters needed as many days as possible with an elected Senator – then proceeded to appoint a Republican who for four months opposed most of the positions held by the man originally elected by those voters.

New Jersey: For Special Election, Some New Jersey Residents Can Vote This Week | Wall Street Journal

The special election for U.S. Senate in New Jersey was called just three weeks ago, but some state residents can  already begin voting later this week. County election offices must begin sending out vote-by-mail ballots on Saturday, according to a timetable established by the state Division of Elections for the race to fill the seat held by the late Frank Lautenberg. But several county offices said Tuesday that they weren’t wasting time and will begin sending out the thousands of ballots as early as Wednesday—meaning the sprint of six candidates running in the primary is officially beginning. “We start stuffing and we start mailing right away,” said an election official at the Essex County Clerk’s Office, about the vote by mail ballots. “Once we get them, we rock right away.”

New Jersey: Christie calling in reinforcements for election bonanza | NJ.com

Gov. Chris Christie is ready to hire more state workers and rent extra voting machines to avoid any last-minute chaos between New Jersey’s two major elections this year, his administration told the state Supreme Court this week. After U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s death earlier this month, Christie called a special Senate election for Oct. 16 at an estimated cost of $12 million — a price tag that would rise if the Republican governor goes through with any of the backup plans his staff described to the court. The date for the Senate election — 20 days before the Nov. 5 vote for governor and for all the seats in the Legislature — has rankled Democrats who said Christie could have combined the two elections but chose to spend millions to split them and boost his re-election chances. In a worst-case scenario, the 20-day window between the special election and the regularly scheduled one in November could dwindle to just 48 hours, state election officials said in a filing to the state Supreme Court, which is expected to rule soon whether Christie must combine the two elections.

New Jersey: Court clears the way for U.S. Senate special election | Reuters

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.

New Jersey: Bergen County freeholders: State should pay for special election; would cost county $3.6 million | NJ.com

The Bergen County Freeholders on Wednesday voted to seek a court order directing the state to reimburse the county for the special election to replace the late U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg. In a unanimous vote, the freeholders directed their attorney to file a “declaratory judgment action” in Hackensack Superior Court contesting the cost of the Oct. 16 election, as well as the Aug. 13 primary. It’s estimated that the two elections would set the county back $3.6 million. David Ganz, the board’s chairman, said the elections would tip the county over the state’s mandated 2 percent property tax cap to recoup costs, creating a “financial emergency” in Bergen County.

New Jersey: Monmouth County officials want state to pay special election cost up front | NJ.com

Monmouth County officials are happy to hold a special election for U.S. Senator in October, but they would like the state to pay the costs up front. “We budgeted for the November election and the primary, we did not budget for this election,” Freeholder Gary Rich said. “We are reaching out to the state and asking if they could to fund this up front.” At their next meeting, the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders will consider a resolution to request that the state pay for the Oct. 16 special election and the Aug. 13 party primaries. At issue are two elections, a primary and a special election, to fill the seat vacated by the late Frank Lautenberg. Typically, counties budget to equip and staff polls each election year, and are later reimbursed by the state. “With the special elections, the state is throwing the burden on the county, and I believe the county should be paid before them,” Freeholder John Curley said. “We’re struggling as a coastal county with all the problems from Sandy, now we’re left with towns that are devastated and the tax base is deficient.”

New Jersey: Christie can set NJ election date, lawyers argue | Associated Press

Government lawyers argued Tuesday that the New Jersey Supreme Court should reject a request to move a special U.S. Senate election that Gov. Chris Christie scheduled three weeks before the state’s regular Nov. 5 election. Christie and all 120 legislative seats are up for election in November. However, the governor set the special election for Oct. 16 — the first legally allowable date — to fill the remaining year of a Senate seat left vacant by the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Democrats sued, and an appeals court quickly and unanimously sided with Christie, ruling the governor within his authority to set the special election schedule. The Supreme Court received briefs this week from challengers seeking emergency consideration to invalidate the dates. They say it’s unnecessary to hold a special election so close to regularly scheduled balloting, which will cost taxpayers an extra $12 million. There is no word on when the court might rule. Party primaries are scheduled for Aug. 13. Four Democrats and two Republicans have qualified.

New Jersey: Panel approves bill moving general election to October, coinciding with U.S. Senate special election | NorthJersey.com

Governor Christie’s decision to fill New Jersey’s U.S. Senate seat through an October special election is “bad for democracy,” the Democrat running against him said today. She and other Democrats on a state Senate committee voted today for two bills aimed at combining special and general elections. One bill would move this year’s general election — currently scheduled for Nov. 5 — to Oct. 16 to coincide with the special election. The other would prohibit the governor from holding a special election to fill any future Senate vacancy. Instead, the governor would have to appoint someone until the seat is filled in a general election. The appointee would have to belong to the same political party as the person who previously held the seat.

New Jersey: Christie’s Special Election Plan Heads New Jersey Supreme Court | Bloomberg

New Jersey’s Supreme Court will weigh in on Governor Chris Christie’s decision to hold a special election Oct. 16 to replace deceased U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg. The justices put the case on a fast track today, ordering briefs by June 17 and final responses by June 18, acting state courts administrative director Judge Glenn Grant said in a statement. The move follows a lower appeals court decision yesterday that there’s no legal obstacle to holding the vote 20 days before the general election, when Christie’s on the ballot seeking a second term.

New Jersey: Union County Freeholders decline to fund special U.S. Senate election | NJ.com

Calling Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to hold a special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant after the recent death of Frank Lautenberg just weeks before an already scheduled election fiscally irresponsible, the Union County Freeholders on Thursday night declined to allocate the roughly $850,000 to fund the special balloting day, scheduled for October. Freeholder Mohamed Jalloh said holding two elections within weeks at such a cost was an unnecessary burden on taxpayers. “To have a special general election three weeks before (the scheduled election), that doesn’t make any sense,” Jalloh said this morning. “I haven’t been given an good reason as to why we would fund this twice.”

New Jersey: Court sides with Christie, rejects challenge to October special election | NJ.com

A three-judge appellate panel has rejected a challenge to Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to call a special election to fill the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s seat in October, three weeks before the regularly scheduled November election. “Without question, the Governor was authorized to call a special election in this circumstance,” state Superior Court Judge Jane Grall wrote. Grall said the Legislature “has delegated broad authority to the State’s governor.” On June 4 – the day after Lautenberg died — Christie announced plans hold a special primary on Aug. 13 followed by a special general election on Oct. 16 – a Wednesday — to fill his seat. The nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services estimated that the special primary and general elections will cost $24 million combined. While Democrats did not dispute the need for the primary, they said Christie should have called the special election to take place at the same time as the regularly scheduled November election, when he’s on the ballot.

New Jersey: State fights back over special election | Courier-Post

Gov. Chris Christie’s administration fought back Tuesday against Democrats who are trying to get a court to move the special U.S. Senate election from the October date he chose to the same day as the November general election. The state filed papers asserting that Christie was within his legal rights to schedule the election when he did, and that changing course now would be damaging. “The harms that will flow from the stay that they seek significantly outweigh any purported harms resulting from its denial,” the state government’s lawyers said in the filing with an appeals court Tuesday. The next step in the case will likely be oral arguments, which have not been scheduled.

New Jersey: Judges Weigh Christie’s Call for New Jersey Special Election | Wall Street Journal

A New Jersey appeals court is mulling the merits of a last-minute legal challenge to Gov. Chris Christie’s call for a U.S. Senate special election this October, even as the race for the seat last held by the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg has quickly taken shape. A three-judge panel is expected to decide soon how to proceed with a legal filing that asks for the interim senator to be selected during the state’s regular election on Nov. 5, rather than by holding a special election on Oct. 16, as requested by Mr. Christie. Both sides in the case concluded filing briefs Wednesday. The Appellate Division has yet to announce whether it will hold oral arguments for the case. The governor said he wants the special election to be held to allow voters to fill the seat as soon as possible. In November, all state lawmakers are up for election, including Mr. Christie. The Republican is seeking re-election against Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono. Marguerite Schaffer, chairwoman of the Somerset County Democratic Party—and a Buono supporter—filed the case pro bono on Friday, arguing that the special election would confuse voters unaccustomed to voting on a Wednesday or just before a statewide election.

New Jersey: Christie defends special election to fill Lautenberg’s vacant U.S. Senate seat | The Political State | NorthJersey.com

Governor Christie stood by his decision to hold a special election to fill Frank Lautenberg’s U.S. Senate seat and said he doesn’t think the abbreviated election cycle benefits any one candidate. “If people want to sue, let them go to the courts, that’s what the courts are there for,” Christie said during a State House news conference. “And we’ll rise or fall on that basis, but I certainly have no second thoughts about it.” Peg Shaffer, the chairwoman of the Somerset County Democratic Committee, filed a legal challenge to the special election date Monday. The state Attorney General has until Tuesday to file a response with the Appellate Division. Holding a separate special election will cost about $12 million. In addition, Christie’s opponent in the November election, state Sen. Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, is circulating a petition demanding Christie move the special election to November.

New Jersey: Appellate court: Democrat can proceed with lawsuit to reschedule Senate special election | NorthJersey.com

A county Democratic chairwoman can proceed with a lawsuit trying to have Governor Christie reschedule the special election to fill Frank Lautenberg’s U.S. Senate seat, a pair of appellate judges ruled Friday afternoon. August’s special election will cause “voter suppression and confusion” and cost the state millions of dollars, said Peg Schaffer, the chairwoman of the Somerset County Democratic Committee. She asked the courts for permission to file the suit earlier on Friday. Schaffer endorsed state Sen. Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, Christie’s Democratic opponent in November’s gubernatorial election. But she said she wasn’t representing Buono in the lawsuit.

New Jersey: Democrats slam cost for special election | The Asbury Park Press

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.

New Jersey: Why New Jersey is holding a Wednesday election | Washington Post

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Tuesday set an Oct. 16 special election to fill the vacancy created by the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Oct. 16 is a Wednesday. Elections are usually held on a Tuesday. What gives? The election is happening on a Wednesday because it’s the soonest possible date it could be held under the writ Christie issued. State law holds that the primary be held 70-76 days after the writ Christie issued Tuesday, with a general election to follow 64-70 days after that.

New Jersey: Several mull run for U.S. Senate special election while Democrats consider challenging it | NorthJersey.com

Potential U.S. Senate candidates scrambled to muster support as Democrats considered a legal challenge to the special election Governor Christie set for October and questions grew about the $24 million price tag, with one lawmaker pushing to move up the November election. With the primary over and the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s funeral behind him, Christie will soon decide on his appointment for the vacant seat, sources close to the governor said Wednesday. During his Tuesday news conference announcing the special election, Christie indicated he wanted to have a replacement in Washington, D.C. next week when Congress debates immigration reform. A spokesman for Newark Mayor Cory Booker said volunteers were out collecting signatures Wednesday, but would not say whether the Democrat would announce a run. Only one person has formally declared his candidacy for the August primary – former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, a conservative Republican. And some potential candidates have already taken themselves out of the running, Republican Sen. Tom Kean Jr. and Sen. Kevin O’Toole both said they are focused on winning reelection to their state offices. Democrats, meanwhile, are still exploring going to court to block the special election.

Editorials: With special election decision, Christie helps himself too | NBC

In a decision with implications for his own re-election this fall, the next presidential campaign and the GOP in Washington, New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday called for a special election to be held this year to choose the successor to the late Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Christie announced at a press conference that he had opted against appointing a successor to Lautenberg to serve until the 2014 election, and scheduled a general election on Oct. 16. The primary will be held in August. Christie also said he would appoint an interim senator to serve between now and November, though he explained that he had not decided on that temporary appointee yet. With this decision, Christie is potentially helping create the conditions for a big win in his re-election contest against Democrat Barbara Buono this November.  Without a contested Senate campaign happening at the same time as his own re-election, turnout among Democrats is likely to be far lower, allowing Christie to run up the margin of victory in a race he is already a big favorite to win. That, in turn, could make him look like a more formidable presidential candidate in 2016 should he choose to run.

New Jersey: Christie faces major decision in Senate choice | Associated Press

In filling a vacant Senate seat, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie faces a significant choice fraught with political implications for his re-election campaign and, perhaps, a future presidential run. Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s death Monday presents the state’s popular Republican governor with a series of decisions that carry consequences beyond who will serve as New Jersey’s next U.S. senator. While Republicans and Democrats alike will be watching Christie’s next moves closely, there’s no telling what the governor _ who has staked out a reputation for going his own way _ will do. “I give him praise on a life well-lived,” Christie said of the Democratic senator with whom he frequently tangled. The governor made the comment during an appearance at a women’s conference and then canceled the rest of his public schedule Monday, clearly mindful of the high stakes involved in choosing Lautenberg’s successor.