Thursday, June 6, 2013

Attorney General of New Jersey Named as Interim Senator

Attorney General of New Jersey Named as Interim Senator

Jessica Kourkounis for The New York Times
A New Senator for New Jersey: Gov. Chris Christie announced the appointment of Jeffrey S. Chiesa, the state's attorney general, to the vacant Senate seat.
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Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey on Thursday appointed Jeffrey S. Chiesa, the state’s attorney general, to temporarily fill the Senate seat left vacant by the death of Frank R. Lautenberg.

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A special election to fill the seat for the remainder of Mr. Lautenberg’s term will be held in October, and Mr. Christie’s announcement came as Democrats and Republicans across the state scrambled to line up support, raise money and secure enough signatures ahead of the deadline on Monday to compete in the August primary.
Mr. Chiesa, a Republican, does not plan to seek the seat himself, Mr. Christie said, opening up the field for others in the party. The governor revealed his decision at an afternoon news conference in Trenton.
“It was unexpected for sure,” Mr. Chiesa said. He declined to detail his views on specific policy issues, including immigration, saying only that he wanted to be sure the nation’s borders were secure. He described himself as a “conservative Republican.”
“I need to learn about the issues before I can make any meaningful judgments,” he said.
He offered a flash of his laconic humor when, after being read a long litany of issues he may have to confront during his short tenure, he replied, “Oh, is that it?”
Mr. Chiesa served as chief counsel to Mr. Christie from January 2010 through December 2011, when he was nominated to be attorney general. Before that, he headed Mr. Christie’s transition team after his election, and the two also worked together at the United States attorney’s office.
Senator Lautenberg, who was in his fifth term, died on Monday at age 89. Mr. Christie first reached out to Mr. Chiesa about filling the seat that night, and he noted that the two had been confidants going back more than two decades.
“There are very few people in my life I know better than Jeff,” the governor said. “You won’t find anybody, I think, who will have something bad to say about Jeff.”
Mr. Chiesa, 47, lives in Branchburg, N.J., with his wife and two children. As attorney general, he aggressively went after those suspected of trying to exploit consumers following Hurricane Sandy, filing fraud charges against 27 businesses in the state. He began an ambitious gun-buyback program that took 10,000 weapons off the streets, formed a division to help combat human trafficking and, in 2012, prosecuted current and former public officials in 40 corruption cases.
Matthew Hale, an associate professor at Seton Hall University who closely follows New Jersey politics, said that aside from an assumption that Mr. Chiesa would hold a tough line on law and order issues, it was hard to know how he might vote on many matters in Washington.
“There is just not a huge amount of information we have on his positions,” Dr. Hale said.
Still, he said, Mr. Chiesa is a safe choice for the governor. “This is someone that Chris Christie knows really, really well, trusts a great deal, and will not be surprised by,” he said.
Mr. Christie said he would appoint a new attorney general on Monday.
The decision on the interim senator promised to shift the dynamics of the race, especially for Republicans.
On the Democratic side, Representative Rush Holt, who has represented central New Jersey for eight terms in Congress, on Thursday announced his intention to compete for the seat. In an e-mail to supporters, Mr. Holt said he was “the best candidate to continue the passionate advocacy for progressive values” shown by Mr. Lautenberg.
Mr. Holt is likely to face Mayor Cory A. Booker of Newark, a prodigious fund-raiser who has become one of the state’s most visible politicians. He had been planning to run for the Senate even before Mr. Lautenberg died. Another Democrat, Representative Frank Pallone Jr., who has served 13 terms, is also expected to run. He has millions of dollars in campaign money available for the race.
The Republican primary picture remains more uncertain. Democrats in the state outnumber Republicans by 700,000 among registered voters.
Steven M. Lonegan, who competed with Mr. Christie in the 2009 primary for governor, has announced he will run for the seat. Other names that have been mentioned as possible candidates include Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and former State Senator Bill Baroni, who is the deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The day after Mr. Lautenberg died, Mr. Christie announced plans to hold a special Senate election on Oct. 16, a Wednesday, with primary contests on Aug. 13. His move to have the vote separate from the Nov. 5 general election, when he is on the ballot for a second term, drew fierce criticism from Democrats, as well as some Republicans, who said it was an unnecessary expenditure. (The arrangement is expected to cost an additional $24 million.)
Mr. Christie, at the news conference on Thursday, once again defended his move on scheduling the Senate vote.
“There was no perfect decision,” he said, adding that the state’s statutes on the subject of special elections are vague and open to interpretation, which could lead to court challenges.
“As far as the ramifications politically, that is for everyone else to decide,” he said.
The practical impact has been to force potential candidates to decide quickly whether they want to compete for the seat and then adjust their tactics to navigate a compressed campaign schedule.
Republicans and Democrats hoping to run must file petitions by Monday afternoon and must include 1,000 signatures from supporters.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: June 6, 2013
An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He is David Samson, not Sampson.
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    • Tom
    • Maine
    NYT Pick
    The use of these tactics is actually a sign that Republicans are hard-pressed to maintain any advantage they have. Special elections may favor them currently, due to the percentage of conservatives in the "old voters" demographic, but the younger generation isn't getting any younger either - one segment is clearly shrinking while the other grows. And there is no amount of gimickry to prevent it.

    That said, Republicans are doing a great job of completely alienating about 70% of Americans, simply to delay the inevitable.
      • maddenwg
      • Bloomfield HIlls, MI
      So now we can put to rest the idea that Mr.Christie is "different kind of politician".
        • Cowboy Marine
        • Colorado Trails
        Not to worry Mr. Chiesa. You don't have to concern yourself with learning "the issues before I can make any meaningful judgments." The U.S. Senate has done neither in years. But you should start thinking about where to be wined and dined by lobbyists, and the big part of the job: re-naming post offices.
          • Hash Howard
          • Northern New Joisey
          Christie blew it, Big Time ...Twice!

          First, by setting a $24 million special election; New Jersey cannot afford that kind of expense, given the budgetary issues our state has.

          Second, by appointing a so-called "conservative Republican" to replace a Liberal Democrat, Mr. Christie has given Democrats a good reason to stop approving of him, in a big way.

          He had an opportunity to do the right thing, but chose the GOP way of doing things ... in effect, ignoring the voters' preferences.

          There is no right way to do the wrong thing, and Gov. Christie has done the wrong thing.

          Shame on Christie.
            • JB
            • NY
            "Chiesa wants to make EDUCATED and INFORMED decisions"..."I like the idea that he's been busy as attorney general"...?

            Oh COME ON!

            Any elected official who proudly professes blatant lack of knowledge about ALL the issues for an office for which he's appointed is simply NOT qualified! Would YOU hire somebody and then say, "Sure, buddy, learn all you need to know in the next week... NO problem!" ?

            Anyone professing such a lack of knowledge should be ashamed to be a VOTING citizen, much less a public official! And how much can he / anyone learn in a few days? (Unless it's how to follow orders from his puppeteers, Chris and Mitch?)

            OR, more likely, he's being UTTERLY DISINGENUOUS and trying the tried-and-true "John-Roberts" confirmation approach, falsely professing impartiality and fairness, so he can slip into office!

            Or BOTH of the above!
              • G. Rivera
              • Charlotte, NC
              The early election should give the new Senator seniority over incoming freshman.
                • P.M.
                • NJ
                Even a November election would give seniority. And even if this year was one with senatorial elections. Since the elected is taking the place of a departed senator, they can take office immediately, not waiting until January.
              • Itzajob
              • New York, NY
              Partisan pundits keep repeating $24 million, but that is not the amount at issue. As the Times has reported, each election costs $12 million, and a standalone primary would have to be held regardless.
                • expat from L.A.
                • Los Angeles, CA
                Cory Booker: please run for Governor instead. Stay away from Washington awhile longer and get a big Democratic turnout in November that will help the entire state of New Jersey.

                Put your state (and country) ahead of any personal ambitions that you might have. What can you possible do in the Senate as a junior member, anyway?
                  • J.J.
                  • Maplewood, NJ
                  There was a reason Cory did not run for governor ... he would get run over. He has lost support among Newark residents; being a Democrat who lived near Newark (until last year) and seeing his job he has done, and the heavy political connections he has, I will not vote for him for senator.
                  • Al
                  • Skillman, NJ
                  What is Mayor Booker's record of achievement in Newark?

                  Why was he unwilling to run against Governor Christie even though he probably enjoys the greatrest name recognition of any Democrat in NJ?

                  Why did he side up to the Governor instead of confront him on major issues?

                  I, too, would have a difficult time supporting Mayor Booker in a senate race. Both Rush Holt and rank Pallone are far worthier of continuing Senator Lautenberg's progressive legacy and have been fighters on the issues that matter to Democrats. Mayor Booker and other so-called state Democratic leaders have allowed themselves to be co-opted by the current governor. They should not take suburban Democratic voters for granted in the upcoming electoral circuses.
                • Socrates
                • Downtown Verona NJ
                Paul...Massachusetts voted against former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney 61% to 38% in the 2012 presidential race.

                Of course, Clueless Mitt is not much of a yardstick to measure the much 'shrewder' Christie.

                We are very prepared to vote for a progressive Democrat in 2016 and against Governor Christie and his partisan antics for President.
                  • Paul
                  • Pittsburgh, PA
                  First, I'm an Independent and a long-term, though now former, NJ resident. First, I don't know how anyone in their right mind could have voted for Romney. I'm shocked he didn't lose MA by 75%. That said, Christie is no Romney. His political instincts are much, much sharper.

                  Sure, he's got plenty of negatives, but his current NJ polling numbers indicate him winning the governorship by a wide margin. So, with those negatives why the high poll numbers? Why can't NJ replace him with a Dem in 2014 election cycle? (Full disclosure: I'm not up on all the potential candidates). If NJ is prepared to vote against him in 2016, why not now?

                  I'm just making a pragmatic statement here. I think he selected the guy he did to work national Republicans behind closed doors for the next few months. I also don't necessarily agree if he was on the Presidential ballot he's a sure loser in NJ. He might not win NJ, granted, but it's not like he has absolutely no shot at winning NJ in a Presidential campaign.

                  Just saying.
                • Doris
                • Chicago
                Christie appointed another right wing Republcian , one of his cronies. What did people expect. Christie is just another Republcian like those in his party. Cristie propose cutting g 85 million for the budget:
                "Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday proposed cutting $540 million from the massive health insurance program for the poor".
                "the governor’s budget proposal also includes about $31 million in savings in other health and human services areas by reducing the monthly stipend most of the state’s 50,000 childless "general assistance" welfare recipients receive by $15, from $140 to $125."
                "cut $19.2 million in higher education loan payments". That does not even take into account the spending for Sandy.
                But he still can have New Jersey pay and EXTRA 24 million dollars for a special election, three weeks before his election, because he is afraid of Cory Booker and the Democrats.
                  • Cleo
                  • New Jersey
                  There is not a single person who is genuinely "outraged" over $24 million for the October election. If money was an issue, Christie could postpone the election until 2014, which is what he should have done. More people are outraged that A-Rod is paid $24 MILLION A YEAR, than over the election.
                    • Itzajob
                    • New York, NY
                    I know partisan pundits keep repeating $24 million, but that is not the amount at issue. Each election costs $12 million, and the primary would have to have been held regardless.

                    But Mr. Christie should have put the senatorial general election on the November ballot, not waited til 2014. For $12 million and all the other problems of a special senatorial general (extra trip to the polls, risk of a recount tying up the machines, etc.), New Jerseyans could have waited a couple extra weeks to elect their senator, but not an extra year and two weeks.
                    • Nuschler
                    • Cambridge
                    Apples and oranges.

                    A-Rod is not paid with taxpayer money. The people of NYC paid for a brand new stadium that no longer has cheap enough seats for most fans and the Yankees have the biggest payroll of any other MLB team: $197,962,289. And $6,186,321per player.
                  • Kevin
                  • Mount Joy, PA
                  Gov. Christie is correct, there is no perfect solution to when to hold the special election, BUT, that said, $24,000,000 buys a lot of perfect.

                  Considering that NJ can use all the money it can muster to help with cleanup and reconstruction due to Sandy, it is reckless and fiscally irresponsible of him to spend up to $24 million dollars on a special election. Just waiting a month and placing the Senate race on the same ticket with the Governor's race makes the most sense.

                  If he is that reckless spending $24 million at the state level, just wait until he gets into the White House (FAT chance of that happening).

                  If Republicans are supposed to be fiscally responsible, why is Christie doing this? Politics, I shamefully say.
                    • alan Brown
                    • new york, NY
                    Please, does anyone really expect a politician to ignore the political implications of a major decision? Accepting that, Christie has insured that as of the October election the U.S. Senator elected will reflect the will of the electorate instead of an appointee. Secondly, that individual will have been chosen by voters (not party committees) in a primary and election. Finally, for those who are denouncing the Governor for the added cost of the special election consider that crucial votes on many major issues of national import may occur during the three weeks and the victor in October will be someone chosen by the voters of New Jersey. Not a bad idea. Does anyone seriously doubt that any decision made by Christie would have been critiqued by his opponents?
                      • J.J.
                      • Maplewood, NJ
                      Agreed; there are many hard right-wingers who are up in arms that he didn't appoint someone (of their likely) for the rest of the term. I thought we were a representative democracy?
                    • Walkaway
                    • Wood-Ridge NJ
                    $24,000,000.00 wasted on a special election. The taxpayers of New Jersey are going to be spending a fortune on Christie's Presidential campaign and the price of a special election three weeks before his gubernatorial one is just the beginning.
                    How is it possible that a solid Blue state can be bamboozled by this right wing egomaniac?
                      • Tony
                      • New York
                      I guess the solid blue state really, really got so fed up with the last Democratic governor, Jon Corzine, that it voted for Christie. That is the problem with solid blue states, they tend to vote for corrupt political hacks, whether Corzine or Blago or McGreevey or Toricelli or Menendez. Then they always say that the corrupt Democrat political hack is better than the Republican.

                      From the polls, it seems that a majority of New Jersey Democrats are happy with the job Christie is doing.
                    • Paul
                    • Pittsburgh, PA
                    NYT Pick
                    I thought "Why this guy?". Why not someone like Gov. Kean for a few months? Passes the Republican litmus test and is generally well regarded. A caretaker Senator so to speak. I think Chiesa is the selection because he gets to hang out in DC the next few months, building relationships and mending fences for a Christie Presidential bid. Shrewd move by Christie. He doesn't need someone who knows the issues. He needs someone to build relationships.
                      • Dan Stackhouse
                      • New York City
                      Um, $3 per resident is basically nothing, $3 won't buy you a movie ticket, pack of smokes, cup of coffee, or more than 2 candy bars. So I doubt that $3 is affecting anyone particularly.
                      • J.J.
                      • Maplewood, NJ
                      Paul, a lot of Democrats would vote against him. Right-wing Republicans would hold their nose as they vote for him, just as they did for Romney. I've found New Jersey to be a very party-line state on both sides.
                      • Nuschler
                      • Cambridge
                      @Dan Stackhouse

                      $3 extra DOES mean a lot to many people...and that is an average. A single parent with four children--$15 means having food for a week. Rice and beans--usually for ANY ethnic group.

                      The point is that it is a complete waste of money. Christie is a punk who is only interested in Christie.
                    • greenmountain boy
                    • burlington, vt
                    Yawn. As I recall, the Senate calendar is controlled by Democrats. Chiesa will spend a lot of time doing nothing other than sending out flags and helping people with social security claims. There won't be a meaningful vote until after the new (presumably Democratic) elected NJ senator is sworn in in October.
                      • J.J.
                      • Maplewood, NJ
                      Depends on if House Republicans decide to do some work and send sane bills to the Senate rather than having screech sessions poorly disguised as committee hearings.
                    • chefjune
                    • New York, NY
                    Perhaps not, but there was a PRACTICAL decision from a money standpoint., and that would have been to have the special Senatorial election on the same day - November 5th -- the state elections were already scheduled for.

                    Rumor has it that Christie didn't want any office/names above his on the ballot. Can we talk about an egotist???
                      • gillian-b40
                      • NY
                      There were two major considerations: his desire to be "on top" of the ticket, and suppression of the Democratic vote -- a favorite Republican tactic. Having aa popular choice like , for example, Cory Booker would stimulate voters who would then NOT vote for Christie, but OMG vote for Barbara Buono!

                      In 2009 he was quoted as saying: "No responsible governor would hold a special election that cost $10 million."

                      Now, in order to set the stage for 2016, $23.8 million is not to much to spend!

                      Think of all the good that could be done to restore the Jersey Shore for that kind of money, instead of feeding Christie's national aspirations.
                      • Nuschler
                      • Cambridge

                      "Think of all the good that could be done to restore the Jersey Shore for that kind of money, instead of feeding Christie's national aspirations."

                      Instead think of all the teachers' salaries or food programs that would have paid for too.
                    • Lloyd
                    • New Jersey
                    Actually not all 50 states. When Sen. Craig Thomas died in office, under Wyoming law, Governor Freudenthal, a Democrat, was required to appoint a new senator from a list of three submitted by the Wyoming Republican Party's central committee because the seat was vacated by a Republican. The GOP met on June 19, 2007 in Casper to select three candidates from thirty applicants to send to the governor. Tom Sansonetti, former state Treasurer Cynthia Lummis, and State Senator John Barrasso were nominated. On June 22, 2007 Governor Dave Freudenthal appointed Barrasso as Thomas's successor in the U.S. Senate. So the idea of appointing someone from the same party of the deceased has been done before.
                      • jimB
                      • SC
                      The Constitution leaves to the states the method of filling a vacancy.
                    • JB
                    • NY
                    “I need to learn about the issues before I can make any meaningful judgments,” Chiesa said?

                    Sure sounds like HE'S (utterly un) ready to hit the ground running!

                    You'd think that at least SOME PRETENSE of knowledge of the "issues" would be the MINIMUM qualification for even being considered for a job as Senator.

                    Well, at least this makes it clear what sort of cronies a "President Christie" would surround himself with!
                      • Tamar
                      • California
                      It's much better than Pelosi's "we need to pass the bill, so that we know what's in it", isn't it? At least Chiesa wants to make EDUCATED and INFORMED decisions.
                      • Saint999
                      • Albuquerque
                      I like the idea that he's been busy as attorney general and isn't convinced he has all the evidence on "the issues yet". There's too much pretense of knowledge in Washington. But if Chiesa is a thoughtful man he's in for some horrid surprises.
                      • Lee
                      • Pittsburgh
                      Actually it sounds like he will be a pretty good choice then. He will fit right in with McConnell and Reid and of course Joe can certainly get him up to speed on most any issue.
                    • John Quinn
                    • Virginia Beach, VA
                    This is an excellent move on Governor Christie's part. From a political point of view the quick election assists the Republican Party by forcing the Democratic Party into a costly and possibly divisive primary election. It will deplete the campaign funds of two Democratic Party members of the US House of Representative and the Democratic mayor of Newark. Whoever the southern New Jersey Democratic Party boss backs will be the Democratic Party nominee. If the Republicans nominate an extreme conservative, who is then badly beaten in the general election, the Republicans will have an opportunity to nominate a credible candidate for the 2014 election when the political climate may favor them.

                    No one really cares about the cost. New Jersey has the most inefficient government structure in the US, where multiple levels of State and local government burn through millions of dollars daily. If the voters of New Jersey were "cost sensitive," they would have consolidated counties, municipalities, school districts, fire districts, and water districts, years ago. The people of New Jersey are not serious about saving money in government.

                    The complaint about the cost of the elections is a specious one. Most of the cost goes to election day workers at the polls. These are the local political partisans who can use some extra money. The Democratic Party workers will receive one half of what is spent by the State to conduct the election.
                      • Matt
                      • nyc
                      by selecting a right winger, he buys a few months for republicans but will turn off democratic voters for the election. seems like cutting off nose to spite your face
                      • Martin
                      • New York
                      I live in in NJ and I care not only about the governor calling for a costly (yes, costly) special election but also about his making the whole state turn out twice to vote instead of just once in November. And all for his own political benefit and convenience. HIS credibility about being serious about doing what's best for the state and being careful about finances is now NIL.
                    • Tony
                    • North Carolina
                    Well, like it has always been said, never judge a book by its cover. Christie, if there was ever an opportunity to run for president, and this is a demonstration of your loyalty to a Democratic state, you really blew it.
                      • eofrank
                      • irvington,ny
                      NYT Pick
                      I was hoping that Gov Christie would show the same degree of boldness he showed, in the aftermath of Sandy, when he welcomed President Obama with complimentary words; especially at a critical point in the presidential race. His actions annoyed members of his party, but showed us a man who was willing to speak his mind about an important matter, and set aside partisan politics to get New Jersey back on its feet.
                      If he harbors any plans to run for the highest office in the nation, he must use moments like this to convince us that he can and will represent all of us. While New Jersey’s Attorney General, Jeffrey S. Chiesa, has no plans to run for Senator, an interim candidate from the late Senator Frank R. Lautenberg's party would have made more sense. The beloved Senator Lautenberg was elected five times to the Senate, and it would have been a savvy move to fill his seat with someone who shared the late Senator's political vision.
                        • Sage
                        • California
                        He could care less about making sense and supporting the people of his state. Opportunism is his name.
                        • Nuschler
                        • Cambridge
                        "...but showed us a man who was willing to speak his mind about an important matter, and set aside partisan politics to get New Jersey back on its feet."

                        Christie was calling Obama every horrible name in the book right before Hurricane Sandy. He isn't bipartisan...he just wanted to ride in Marine One! So MUCH cooler than his own private state helicpter.
                      • TD
                      • NJ
                      The reason NJ is such a mess is because of the endless control of corrupt and inept democrats... Corizine, Menedez, McGreevey.... need I say more? And you people want more of the same?... Absolutely amazing. Chrisite is far from perfect, but he is the best thing that has happened to NJ in decades.
                        • Fahey
                        • WA
                        • Verified
                        Just a question here:
                        As an interim only for the NJ Senate seat, can Jeffrey S. Chiesa's name then be on the ballot for another position three weeks later in the general election ?
                          • Dan Stackhouse
                          • New York City
                          Seems to me to be a very reasonable appointment, I applaud Gov. Christie's choice. Mr. Chiesa is experienced in gov't, is well aware of NJ's issues, and seems rather moderate so I doubt he'll attempt outrageous legislation. Glad he's not considering running in the election too, it shows he's doing this job because it has to be done, not out of a lust for power. And Gov. Christie really had to appoint a republican or become a total pariah in his party.

                          However, I'm hoping Mayor Booker wins the Senate election. He'll make a great Senator I think; he's compassionate, effective, highly intelligent, and seems like one of the few politicians who went into the game for the best reasons, to try to help people and make a difference. Recall that he once ran into a burning house to save his neighbor, getting injured in the process; really it's hard to top that one.
                            • EO
                            • Vermont
                            I think running into the house to save his neighbor was undeniably a great thing that Cory Booker did as a person, but how much do people really know about the public policies that Booker favors?

                            Many people who follow Booker see the nice personal things such as this, but in a Senator or Mayor you also need to know the public policies which the person endorses before you make up your mind who to support.

                            Before people make their decision in the primary, they should hear from everyone who is running. In terms of positions on issues, for instance, Rush Holt has endorsed much more progressive public policies.
                          • Becca
                          • Florida
                          Very unwise of you, showing your true colors. How could you ever claim to be a good, bipartisan, leader of the country after this? Newsflash: Don't bother running for prez, you'll lose.
                            • Stubbs
                            • San Diego
                            Could you share with us your long list of Republicans appointed to office by Democratic govenors?
                          • Aus
                          • Central CT
                          Once again I have to admire Christie. He has chosen a true "interim" person, who will not seek the position and appears to be a judicious person: "I need to learn about the issues before I make any meaningful judgments."

                          Perhaps the election is a bit quick, but it may be a blessing that the state won't have to live through a long and drawn out war of words between various political interests.

                          A process seemingly laconic as the interim Senator. I wish him luck and good judgment.
                            • Phill
                            • California
                            NYT Pick
                            The special October election, held three weeks before the November general election, will cost $12 million. It's expected that the Senate will be in session for six days during that three weeks so New Jersey taxpayers will be paying $2 million a day for the privilege of having an elected senator. Do New Jersey voters object to spending this much money just to give Gov. Christie a landslide win that will serve as a launching pad for a run for the presidency? What do they think of his 2009 statement that such an election would be a waste of money? I used to like the guy but such an expensive maneuver solely to benefit himself really has me wondering about him.
                              • Ralph Braskett
                              • Lakewood, NJ
                              Booker should be able to win if both Pallone & Holt run in the Dem. primary for Senate. Booker will loose older liberal white suburbanites to Holt whilst Pallone will likely get the white working class suburbanites. That means Booker has to get the
                              Blacks, Browns & under age 30 kids out to vote on a Hot August day; easier said than done given the struggle to get them to vote in non-Presidential elections.
                              To Observer: that is why Booker was not crowned by Christie besides the fact that the National Republicans would go ballistic. Also he leaves the many Republican politicians mentioned in the news an opportunity to run without giving up their office; If the only candidate to run so far--Lonegan-very conservative & no friend of Christie, the Dems should have a huge victory in October.
                                • Ellen Cannel
                                • Woodland Park
                                This older liberal urbanite/suburbanite is perfectly willing to vote for a black person.
                              • George Young
                              • Edison
                              Seems like he appointed a competent man that he can trust so that we have representation in Washington. I am willing to over look Chiesa party affiliation if he truly represents New Jersey. Let's see what he does in Washington?
                              Christie did his job and promptly appointed the guy he thinks is right to temporarily fill this position.
                              I don't see the need for a special election, why spent the money.
                                • Alan Wright
                                • NJ
                                Who shall be the final Democratic and Republican candidates for Senate? I suspect it will be Cory Booker vs a sacrificial lamb the Governor is unwilling to support, as it would betray his weakness in the state when that lamb is slaughtered.
                                  • ridgerunner
                                  • TN
                                  Typical Republican--the Party over the country.
                                    • Tony
                                    • New York
                                    Republicans are upset because Christie chose the country over the party. I guess that means that Christie did the right thing. I doubt the people who elected Christie would want to have him appoint another corrupt Democrat to the Senate. Reminds me of Democrats like Corzine, McGreevey and Menendez.
                                  • Bill
                                  • New Hampshire
                                  Critics of the October special election date focus on the cost to the State and local governments.

                                  But the really outrageous cost is to the voters of New Jersey. Voting takes time and effort. The way to encourage the most people to vote is to make it convenient, and in this case that means combining the Special and General elections.

                                  It is outrageous to ask citizens to vote twice within three weeks just so the Governor can hold down the number of people voting in the second election. I hope it backfires on him. So cynical.
                                    • Andrea
                                    • NY, NY
                                    I wish the Times would stop using the line that "Democrats in the state outnumber Republicans by 700,000 among registered voters." While accurate in and of itself, it misses the point that voters registered with *neither* party outnumber both registered Democrats and registered Republicans.
                                      • Tony
                                      • New York
                                      It also misses the point that New Jersey voters elected a Republican, Chris Christie, as their governor.
                                    • Jimmy
                                    • Rutherford, NJ
                                    NYT Pick
                                    When a Senator dies in office, the governor should not be allowed to fill the seat with a person from a different party. The people voted to elect a Democrat. Moreover, New Jersey hasn't had a Republican Senator since 1979, so it's not as though there were ANY chance a Republican could have been elected. The will of the people is clear, and by appointing Chiesa, Christie has subverted that will.
                                      • Laura Hunt
                                      • here there and everywhere
                                      I know it only deals with the Executive Branch, bu tyou get my point, just recently he bypassed congress in appointing Ms. Rice as head of NSC. He likes to cut corners as well. And as someone pointed out in an earlier post, when was the last time a Democratic Governor appointed a Republican? Still waiting for that list to appear.
                                      • AC
                                      • NYC
                                      By the same token, Christie was willfully elected by this same democratic electorate, and the charge of governor comes with that prerogative. I don't know of any governor in that position who didn't make an (interim) pick within his own party.

                                      So while I'm no fan of Christie, I beg to differ: you don't change the rules of political engagement when they become inconvenient. The waste of $24M is, however, an entirely different story.
                                      • Eugene Gorrin
                                      • Union, NJ
                                      Reply to Laura Hunt -

                                      The appointment of Ambassador Rice as National Security Adviser is not a position that requires Senate confirmation. So how is President Obama bypassing Congress if he - as well as other presidents - are legally permitted to appoint members of his executive team without Senate confirmation. That's what the law provides and he is following the law.

                                      You also state "he likes to cut corners as well". Rather than making a broad statement, why don't you at least provide one concrete, specific example of your statement to back it up.

                                      But I agree with you that Governors of one party typically - if not always - appoint a member of their own party as a replacement, even if the one replaced was an elected member of the other party. So Governor Christie's appointment of Jeffrey Chiesa is quite normal and I'm not offended or up in arms over it. At least Chiesa has vowed only to serve only until the special election is held.
                                    • Rebecca
                                    • Metairie, LA
                                    Christie is wrong to appoint a Republican to fill the vacancy of an elected Democrat. The more I see this man in action, the more I find him disgusting. This action comes on top of him setting a special election to be held on a Wednesday, instead of the normal Tuesday voting day a month prior to his election. What are you so afraid of Christie? Go ahead and run for president because you will never win and I will enjoy voting against you.
                                      • bd
                                      • San Diego
                                      It's SOP; e.g. same as Gov. Blago appointing that hack to fill the Obama senate seat in Illinois. Anyway the new guy is simply a bench warmer pending the election in the fall, and then let the citizens of New Jersey decide.
                                      • Dan Stackhouse
                                      • New York City
                                      It really is the way the system works, like the third in line for President being the Speaker of the House regardless of party affiliation. Still, it's in keeping with democratic principles, as the governor was elected by the majority, statewide; far better than having an appointed judge or something make the choice.
                                      • BR
                                      • New Jersey
                                      For those of you who seem taken aback that a Republican was chosen for a Democrat seat this really isn't news. This is standard operating procedure in all 50 states. That is one of the recognized perks of being elected a Govenor.

                                      That he didn't pick someone who had already declared for the Republican primary just shows you the kind of person he is. This really is an interim pick (unless of course the Atty Gen reconsiders).
                                    • Grant
                                    • Boston
                                    Excellent selection, as again Governor Christie is decisive and adept at managing a crisis and the interests of the state.
                                      • reubenr
                                      • Cornwall
                                      Well, it's pretty clear that Mr. Christie has bamboozled the media once again, since no one realizes or is willing to say that the problem with having an election that includes Mr. Booker at the same time as his, the Governor, might mean a much heavier turnout of black, hispanic and Democratic voters, whom are not likely to vote Republican. To Mr. Christie, it is worth having the general public chip in $12 million to help him out. Ordinarily, he wouldn't have had to worry about competing with anyone other than his opponent, but in this case, the "Big Man" is being very "Big" and selfish, indeed.
                                        • reubenr
                                        • Cornwall
                                        That should have been "who," rather than "whom," but the way the math breaks down, it's about 250 teachers.
                                        • BR
                                        • New Jersey
                                        To Anthony N:

                                        How about his major victory over the unions that they finally have to contribute something towards their benefits like the rest of us who didn't work for the state? I'm fairly confident that news even made the Times. That was even done with bi-partisan support. Next, caping property tax increases at 2%. Next, reducing the size of NJ government and closing a massive deficit without raising taxes.
                                        • reubenr
                                        • Cornwall
                                        To BR,

                                        I don't wish to run down Mr. Christie but the things you cite seem askew. Public employees always contributed towards their benefits in more ways then one, with actual contributions and by accepting lower salaries. Capping property taxes benefits the wealthy and does nothing for renters and in the process does nothing to address the inequities in education. By itself it is one sided. With other actions it would have been more meaningful. And as for a surplus, which has proven to be far less than expected or hoped for, I guess would be a better term, has more to do with what Christie has not done than anything he has done. He certainly has done nothing to improve the jobs picture in New Jersey, which, for sure, would do more for everyone and yield an even higher surplus in the final analysis.
                                      • Kay Spiessl
                                      • Montclair, NJ
                                      I think to opt for a special election at a cost of 24M at this time is recklessor Governor Christie. There is no reason that the candiates for the Senate seat cannot be on the November ballot. With people still struggling in NJ, I think the Governor has made an error in judgment to spend the extra funds, especially with the general election only 2 weeks or so away from the special election date.
                                      It won't make any difference in the outcome for Governor Christie, which has been cited as his reason. People are hungry, need jobs, need help with rebuilding after Hurridane Sandy - & NJ is going to waste money on a special election - that's enough for me not to vote for Governor Christie for a 2nd term!
                                        • Tom Davis Jr
                                        • Bayside, NY
                                        Only a Republican Governor would appoint a Republican to replace a Democrat and not cause a stir. It is tradition and politic to appoint such seats to a member of the same party as the previously elected member. Had this been the other way around it would have been "stacking the Senate." I'm surprised Democratic Senators and the DNC let the balance shift by such an appointment without questioning the move. Very disappointed.
                                          • Mike
                                          • NJ
                                          In the last 100 years a Democrat governor has NEVER appointed a vacant senate seat with a Republican when held by that party..
                                          So, your argument is void..
                                        • Eugene Gorrin
                                        • Union, NJ
                                        I must admit that was a surprise choice by Governor Christie, and also that Chiesa is just a care-taker who will not run for the seat in the special election.

                                        The race on both the Democratic and Republican side is now wide-open.

                                          • Swatter
                                          • Washington DC
                                          It's wrong to name an interim senator from another party. I would still say this if the death had been of a republican.
                                            • Observer
                                            • New York, NY
                                            If Gov. Christie would've just appointed Mayor Cory Booker he would've saved the state a lot of money.
                                              • Laura Hunt
                                              • here there and everywhere
                                              Booker is on the record as saying he wanted to fulfill his term as running Newark. When that term expires he can run to his heart's content, and I hope he wins.

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