CBSChris Christie says he’s calling a special election to fill New Jersey’s vacant Senate seat in October — just three weeks before his own re-election vote — because the state needs a duly elected Senator ASAP.
Everyone knows this is B.S.
Christie knows he’s better off if his race and the Senate race are on separate ballots. And he’s right.
Christie hasn’t kept his approval rating over 70 per cent in a blue state by missing opportunities to gain political advantage. Today’s move is genius for three reasons, and most observers are fixating on just the first.
- Christie’s own race: He’s poised to crush his barely-funded opponent, Democratic State Sen. Barbara Buono. Newark Mayor Cory Booker, the likely Democratic nominee for Senate, is way more popular than Buono. If he were on the November ballot, he would be a turnout draw for Democrats and reduce Christie’s win margin. Christie wants to run up the scoreboard as much as possible to enhance his national profile.
- Downballot races: Christie dreams of Republicans taking a majority in the state legislature or at least increasing their standing. A Booker-led ballot would undermine that goal.
- The Senate race itself: A low-turnout election on a Wednesday in October with nobody else on the ballot gives Republicans their best chance to win. Booker still has an advantage, but he isn’t as good a candidate as his national profile suggests. The right Republican candidate could paint Booker as a better civic booster than city official. While pursuing the education and policing reforms that built his national profile, Booker has neglected Newark’s finances. He’s repeatedly sought to liquidate or borrow against city assets instead of bringing recurring revenues and expenses into line. And when he got caught off guard because the city council rejected one of his financial engineering schemes, he had to do a major police layoff instead.
Christie said today of his decision to hold three elections inside three months, “I don’t know what the cost is, and quite frankly, I don’t care.” Of course he doesn’t care. The added elections may cost taxpayers $25 million, but the political gains to New Jersey Republicans are priceless.
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