TRENTON – Two Democrat-sponsored bills drafted in reaction to the scheduling of the special U.S. Senate election will be heard by the Senate State Government Committee Monday.
One bill would shift the date of the November general election to Oct. 16, the date of the special election to fill the vacancy created by the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg.
The other would require that when such a vacancy occurs, the governor must appoint to the seat someone from the same party as the senator who held the seat.
Lautenberg was a Democrat, and Gov. Chris Christie appointed a Republican, Attorney General Jeff Chiesa, to fill the seat temporarily until the special election is held.
There has not been a Republican from New Jersey elected to U.S. Senate since 1972. Two Republicans and four Democrats have filed to run in the primaries for the October special election.
As for that special election being set less than a month ahead of the general election of Nov. 5, Christie has dismissed criticism that the move is political.
He said it was Democrats who called for a senator to be elected as quickly as possible. Some critics claim Christie – who leads Democratic opponent Barbara Buono by a wide margin in polls – does not want a potentially strong Democratic Senate candidate topping the ticket and drawing Democratic voters out.
Critics also decry the extra expense of millions of dollars to hold a special election, but Christie responded that providing voters with an elected official as soon as possible outweighs the costs.
The issue is also being fought in court, as Democratic plaintiffs, including 16th District Assembly candidate Marie Corfield, are fighting to get the date of the special election changed.