By Art Gallagher
When the Governor’s announcement of a Special U.S. Senate election in October prompted knee-jerk angry responses from national Republicans, New Jersey Democrats and New Jersey wingnuts, I figured he must be onto something good.
As my young friend, New Jersey Rising Star Matt Rooney pointed out this morning, there was a better than even risk that the NJ Supreme Court would side with Trenton Democrats and overrule Christie if he appointed a temporary Senator to serve until November of 2014. The NJ Supremes could then overreach their authority and dictate that the special election be held in November of this year.
I once heard an honest Judge congratulate litigants for settling their differences, for keeping their destinies in their own hands, rather than turn their fates over to unpredictable third parties. By choosing the route to fill the late Senator Frank Lautenberg’s seat that he did, Christie limited the possibility that his gubernatorial power would be taken over by the Court.
The conventional punditry seems to assume that whichever Republican Christie chooses to temporally fill the seat until the special election will inevitably lose to Newark Mayor Cory Booker in October. I’m not convinced that is the case.
If (which is looking to be unlikely) Republicans can avoid a competitive primary and unite behind Christie’s Republican appointee, the new Senator could spend the summer introducing herself/himself to New Jersey and the nation. The right choice could be a sought after guest on the Sunday morning talk shows and the cable news networks. The right person could spend the summer winning, while Democrats Booker, Congressman Frank Pallone and Congressman Rush Holt bloody each other up in the Democratic primary.
A short, bloody and expensive Democratic primary will leave the Democrats more divided than they already are. Only time will tell how well the Dems could regroup and unite for a 9 week special election campaign that will be competing for ink and airtime with the gubernatorial campaign. If the Democratic primary is close, the loser(s) will have even less motivation to work hard for, and rally their troops for, the winner.
Republicans are likely to relish the opportunity to vote twice in three weeks. Democrats would have to work harder and spend more to vote twice in three weeks.
The Democrats will have to spend a fortune to get their people out to vote on a Wednesday in October. Republicans could do it with a few phone calls, a mailer and ads, including video, on MoreMonmouthMusings and SaveJersey.
The best way to beat Booker, is to let Pallone and Holt bloody him up over the summer. The more I think about Christie’s October 16 Special U. S. Senate election, the more I think it is the best shot for Republicans to elect as U.S. Senator from New Jersey.
For those who call themselves conservative and are complaining about the $24 million cost of the election, shut up and think. It is really only $12 million, because there would have to be a $12 million primary, even if the special election were to be held the same day as the general election. Christie could absorb that $12 million by declining state matching funds for his gubernatorial race. Not that I think he should.
If Christie wants to win the U.S. Seanate seat for New Jersey Republicans, he should choose a conservative woman to be the temporary senator. He should take the state matching funds for his gubernatorial walk against Barbara Buono, and raise $15-$20 million for the Senate race.