Turner: hold general election in Oct.; Christie: Bill headed for ‘ash heap’

TRENTON – A Democratic state senator wants to move the general election from November to the date of the special election in October so that both can be held on the same day.

Sen. Shirley Turner, (D-15), Trenton wants – for one year only – to move the general election to Oct. 16, the date of the special election to fill the seat left vacant by the death this week of U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

On Tuesday, Gov. Chris Christie said the issue of filling a vacant Senate seat was so important that it couldn’t wait until November despite how expensive it would be.  The cost of the election is pegged at about $12 million.

Turner said Thursday the political reason is that he does not want a Democratic ticket on the general election date in November topped by a possibly strong Democratic candidate such as Newark Mayor Cory Booker driving Democratic voters to the polls.

Christie has dismissed that argument, and said the people deserve to have representation at the federal level as soon as possible.  He appointed Attorney General Jeff Chiesa on Thursday to fill the seat temporarily.  Chiesa will not run in the special election.

Turner said moving the general election date would save millions of dollars that otherwise would be spent in holding two elections when one would serve.

“This is not unprecedented,’’ she said. “We’ve moved elections before.”

She said that it is difficult for some who hold multiple jobs to be able to vote in two elections so close together. “I am concerned about voter fatigue,’’ she said.  “He (Christie) is doing this primarily to dampen voter turnout.”

She said she has spoken with State Government Committee Chairman Sen. Jim Whelan about getting the bill posted as soon as is practicable.

She said she also consulted with the Office of Legislative Services about the constitutionality of it. “They are the ones who drafted the bill,’’ she said.

Christie addressed the issue during his press conference Thursday in which he said about 3,000 bills are introduced each session and Turner’s bill “is one that will be on the ash heap as well.”

Turner: hold general election in Oct.; Christie: Bill headed for ‘ash heap’