The New Jersey Governor who once opposed special elections to save taxpayer dollars announced on Tuesday his decision to hold an October special election.
On Thursday, Gov. Chris Christie picked Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa to fill the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s vacant seat until October’s special election. But a month after his election, Governor-elect Chris Christie said, “I don’t think any responsible governor at this point would call for a special election that would cost $10 million.”
Chiesa will serve as an interim senator but will not run for the special election Christie has set.
“I want to have an elected senator as soon as possible,” Christie told reporters at a news conference. “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.”
The governor has announced the primary will be held on Aug. 13, while the special general election will follow on Oct. 16, just three weeks before Christie’s re-election date. According to New Jersey Office of Legislative Services, the special election is estimated to cost around $23.8 million.
On Thursday, Governor Christie continued to face questions on the scheduled election. “We would’ve been sued for 2014… A $12 million cost, while not insubstantial, is I don’t think in the context of a $32 billion budget, something that should dissuade us from giving the people the opportunity to get an elected United States Senator down there as quickly as we can.”
Christie defended his decision for the first time on Tuesday and addressed the concerns surrounding the cost of the election. “The costs associated with having a special primary and general election in my mind cannot be measured against the value of having an elected representative in the United States Senate when so many consequential issues are being debated,” Christie said.
Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart, a New Jersey native, went after Christie’s decision to hold a special election, saying Christie is gaining only three weeks of elected representation – at a cost of $4 million a week. ”It’s just hard to see a corrupt abuse of power and not think about home,” Stewart joked Wednesday night on his program.
“Your whole reputation is supposed to be about protecting New Jersey taxpayers. I don’t know what to say to you,” Stewart said.