One interpretation of state election law is that Jon Corzine has the right to call a Special Election to fill his United States Senate seat, but only if he wants to. Corzine would still appoint a Senator to replace him when he becomes Governor on January 17th, and then voters would have the chance to decide who they want in a March primary and May special. That happened in Texas twelve years ago when Lloyd Bensten resigned to become Secretary of the Treasury. The Governor appointed a new Senator, who lost a Special Election six months later. In a state that has had two unelected Governors in four years, there probably won’t be much of an outcry for double elections (two primaries and two generals) next year, especially since the seat will be filled. But a Special Election would allow the Democratic Congressmen who don’t get the appointment to run anyway, without giving up their House seats. The March primary would come before the April filing deadline for the six-year term. Running for the U.S. Senate without risking a congressional seat is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Republicans don’t want a May election: their candidate, State Senator Thomas Kean, Jr., isn’t necessarily ready, and the state GOP isn’t completely comfortable about the current national political environment. Kean has a virtual lock on the Republican nomination, but that could change if there were to be a primary in March. One of the GOP Congressmen, like Frank LoBiondo or Michael Ferguson, could decide to take a shot at a Senate seat, since they could return to the House if they lose. Kean would also have to be concerned about which primary voters might turnout in March; the New Jersey GOP establishment has not exactly mastered GOTV, and conservatives could have the edge in such a contest. The statute: 19:27-6. Congressional vacancy
If the vacancy happens in the representation of this State in the United States Senate the election shall take place at the general election next succeeding the happening thereof, unless the vacancy shall happen within 64 days next preceding the primary election prior to the general election, in which case it shall be filled by election at the second succeeding election, unless the Governor shall deem it advisable to call a special election therefor, which he is authorized hereby to do.