Tuesday afternoon New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced a special election will be held on October 16 to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by Frank Lautenberg’s death on Monday. “This is about guaranteeing the people of New Jersey both a choice and a voice in the process of determining their representing in Washington,” Christie said in his statement.
The governor hasn’t named an interim replacement yet and is walking a political tightrope. “What he did today really encapsulates the thing he is always dealing with, which is how do I factor in my national appeal, my party, and my state and sometimes all of those interests are colliding with each other,” S.E. Cupp said on Tuesday’s show. ”He chose a not-good option out of two not-great options that put him in a political paralysis position, but as usual does it framed in a very compelling way.”
According to an NBC poll Christie has a 68% favoribility rating. “If you look at the people who voted in the last election… 39% of Romney voters view Christie favorably and 45% of Obama voters view Christie favorably,” Ari Melber said. “That is an extraordinary national number for someone who wants to be a crossover candidate.” Christie, who is constantly on the divide of dealing with a very blue state and an increasingly extreme Republican party, is always trying to make both sides happy.
“I would expect there would be tremendous pressure on him to pick someone in the national Republican mold, which we see is increasingly right of right,” Melber said. If he selects someone from his own party he may gain major points with the national GOP ahead of a potential presidential run in 2016, but that move could alienate the more moderate voters he needs for this year’s re-election bid as governor. His other option is to select a Democrat, which would outrage many members of his party but it could help him with Democratic donors.
Christie, of course, isn’t making any of those calculations public. “I am going to be looking for somebody who will be a great U.S. Senator, someone based on their merits,” Christie said. “And you know me, I don’t dawdle.”