He’s not quite ready to announce who he’ll appoint to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg yesterday, but Gov. Chris Christie has scheduled a special election for this year. A primary election will be held this August 13 and the special election is set for October 16.

Gov. Chris Christie outlines plans for a special election to be held to fill the vacant U.S. Senate seat of Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

“This is about guaranteeing the people of New Jersey both a choice and a voice,” says Christie. “As is clearly indicated by New Jersey law I’m calling for a special election to be held this year.”

He denies there were political considerations that led to his decision, but having the special election in advance of the November 5 general election means Christie will avoid having to fight for votes on the same ballot with Newark Mayor Cory Booker who is expected to run for the Democrats in the U.S. Senate contest.

The special election comes with an estimated price tag of $24 million. Democrats are already blasting Christie's decision.

“I’m very disappointed the governor has chosen to be so transparently political and waste taxpayer money on a special October election,” says Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver. “The November general election date is what’s best for taxpayers and voter turn-out. It’s unquestionably the best option, but Gov. Christie has chosen to put partisan politics and his self-interest first.”