The Attorney General’s Office responded this afternoon with a brief countering the appeal filed by opponents of Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to have a special October election to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat.
According to Christie’s allies, the plaintiffs, represented in part by Somerset County Democratic Chair Peg Schaffer, “cannot satisfy their burden of establishing by clear and convincing evidence” the idea that Christie’s decision to avoid a November general election for the U.S. Senate seat causes harm.
“The Appellate Division evaluated, and properly rejected, each of Appellants’ various assertions in disposing of both their motion and appeal,” the AG’s Office asserts in its brief filed today with the state Supreme Court. “Because Appellants make no better showing here, this Court should do the same. Although Appellants and amici fashion their claims as one for injunctive relief, they actually advance the extraordinary plea that this Court interject itself into a process that is well underway — campaigns have begun; important dates have been set and publicized; elections officials have begun preparation — in a matter committed by the Legislature to the exclusive discretion of the Governor, and upon claims for which they can establish no recognizable harm, much less irreparable harm.”
The plaintiffs seek not to preserve the status quo, but instead a sort of “mandamus, a judicial order that the Governor execute his discretionary authority in a manner more to Appellants’ liking,” according to the brief. “And they seek different relief here than they did below, abandoning some claims and altering others. Their efforts to transform the litigation are to no avail. On the substantive law, the legal position of Appellants is so lacking that there is no likelihood of success on the merits. Indeed, Appellants’ arguments were so devoid of merit that the Appellate Division rightly determined to dispose of the case summarily. This Court should likewise reject Appellants’ baseless challenge to the Governor’s writ.”
The AG’s Office attorneys reassert N.J.S.A. 19:27-6, which provides that “unless the vacancy shall happen within 70 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.”
Because U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) died the day before the Jume Primary, the Governer acted within the framework allowable by statute, the AG’s Office argues.