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NJ Democrats Balk at Christie’s Special Election Plan [POLL/AUDIO]

Democrats are crying foul over Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to hold a special election in October to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Frank Lautenberg.

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
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)

At a press conference Tuesday, Christie announced that a U.S. Senate primary has been scheduled for August 13 and a special election for October 16.

“Let me be clear: this is the way I see my responsibility to the people of this state.  This is about guaranteeing the people of New Jersey both a choice and a voice in the process and the representation that they deserve in Washington. Whoever is going to be our next United States Senator should be nominated by a primary of the people and voted on by all the people of the state of New Jersey, and that’s why as is clearly indicated by New Jersey law, I am calling for a special election to be held this year,” said Christie.

Christie said his decision is final.

But top Democrats accuse Christie of wasting taxpayer money and playing partisan politics.

Full Coverage:  Christie calls for special election

They claim Christie is calling for the special election to be held before the November 5 general election so he can avoid being on the same ticket as Newark Mayor Cory Booker who is expected to be the Democrats’ choice to run for the U.S. Senate seat.

If he is the democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Booker would likely bring out the party’s core voting bloc including those from urban areas. If the Senate race was to be decided on the same day as the gubernatorial election that could mean a a lot more votes for Christie’s opponent State Sen. Barbara Buono and it could hurt Christie’s presidential aspirations if he doesn’t beat Buono in a landslide.

Christie insisted politics played no role in his decision. Christie’s press secretary Michael Drewniak said the Democrats are leaving out one important issue in calling for everything to be decided on November 5. Drewniak said if the U.S. Senate election was also on November 5, there would be no primary.

“The Democrats want to coronate somebody in a smoke-filled back room.”They don’t want a primary. That doesn’t serve the electoral process or New Jersey voters. They need to own up to this truth,” said Drewniak.

The cost of having special election is another complaint from Democrats. Christie acknowledged there is a cost, but said it’s worth it.

“I don’t know what the cost is and I quite frankly don’t care. I don’t think you can put a price tag on what it’s worth to have an elected person in the United States Senate….The cost associated with having a special primary and general election, in my mind cannot be measured against the value of having an elected representative in the United States Senate,” said Christie.

The New Jersey Office of Legislative Services estimated that if a special primary election and a special general election were held in order to fill a vacancy in the office of United States Senator from New Jersey, the FY 2013 cost would be approximately $11.9 million per election.

“I’m very disappointed the governor has chosen to be so transparently political and waste taxpayer money on a special October election,” said 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.”

Former New Jersey Governor and current State Senator Dick Codey has been known for being very colorful with his language. He’s building upon that reputation with his comments about the cost of a special election.

“The decision by Gov. Christie to hold a special election in October instead of November is mind boggling in every rational way,” insisted Codey. “It’s as if he gave the residents of this state the finger and that finger will cost $24 million. Instead of holding an expensive special election that tries to protect the governor’s political vulnerabilities, the voters should have the opportunity to have their say in the regular election in November.”

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