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NJ residents to choose next senator after Christie calls for special election

Posted at 10:42 PM, Jun 04, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-04 22:42:47-04

NEW JERSEY (PIX11) – All eyes have been on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, as he pondered the process of filling frank Lautenberg’s senate seat. His decision is certainly a calculated one, but there’s a heated debate over who will benefit the most from it – voters or Chris Christie.

Senator Frank Lautenberg hasn’t even been buried yet, but the sweepstakes for his Senate Seat official got underway today with a political curveball from Governor Chris Christie.

Of the several options at his disposal, the popular – and often independent-thinking Republican – declared there will be a primary election in August, followed by a special election in October for a total cost of about $24 million to elect Lautenberg’s successor.

“I don’t know what the cost is and I quite frankly don’t care. I don’t think you can put a price tag on what it’s worth to have an elected person in the United States senate,” said Christie.

Christie’s announcement drew immediate and fierce criticism from New Jersey Democrats, who say his motives are purely political and guided by his own ambition to be the presidential nominee in 2016.

John Wisniewski is New Jersey’s Democratic chairman.

“This is the only occasion where we’re now going to segregate out one election because for some reason we believe the voters are incapable of juggling two different elections at one time. It happens all the time! I think he abused his discretion by choosing a date that we have a general election three weeks before a general election”, Wisniewski told Pix11.

Christie denies any political motive in his decision to hold a special election on a Wednesday in October — instead of on Nov 5th — the same day he’s running for re-election as New Jersey’s governor.

Christie’s reasoning?

Voters will get the opportunity to choose their new Senator – whether it be a Democrat or Republican — sooner.

Fairleigh Dickinson University Political Science Professor Dr. Dan Cassino says Christie chose the best option for himself politically, that leaves both parties somewhat unhappy.

“The losers here, are number one any republican who thought they could hold on to the senate seat. It seems likes what Governor Christie is saying with this special election, is that he assumes that there is no republican who he can put up that would be able to do it – that would be able to actually go up strong against Cory Booker,” Cassino told PIX11.