Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump is expected to announce his vice presidential pick this week, and Gov. Chris Christie is still being mentioned as one of a handful of people who may be offered the position.

And even if Trump doesn’t pick Christie and winds up winning the election, Christie might still be selected as attorney general, or for another post, in a Trump administration.

Christie's departure for any job — or to campaign for one — could severely alter New Jersey's political landscape.

According to Brigid Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University, if Christie is named Trump’s VP candidate “he doesn’t have to resign but there would be considerable pressure on him, I think both within the state of New Jersey and also by the Trump campaign, for him to step down.”

She said “governing the state of New Jersey would be an enormous distraction, and you have added into that the beginning of the Bridgegate trial on September 12.”

Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, agrees if Christie is picked by Trump as his running mate, “that vice presidential nomination would be a perfect invitation for him to get out of New Jersey, which is the impression that most New Jerseyans have — that it’s what he wants to do.”

Harrison pointed out if Christie were to step down “60 days prior to the next scheduled election, the presidential election in November, what would happen is there would be a special election."

In other words, we would elect our next governor (for a one-year term) along with our president.

She noted “that kind of maneuver would likely benefit the people who have already at least hinted at their declaration of running, like (Democratic) state Senate President Steve Sweeney, (Democratic) Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop and Democrat Phil Murphy.”

She said it would potentially hurt candidates who don’t have broad-based county line support, and are not particularly well-known statewide, people like state Senator Ray Lesniak and perhaps Assemblyman John Wisniewski, also both Democrats.

Harrision also said not having a special election could help Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, widely considered a potential Republican nominee for the governor's race next year.

“Then the lieutenant governor would get to govern for a year. I think she would have the opportunity to prove her leadership abilities to New Jerseyans,” Harrison said. “She would also have a very important opportunity to separate herself out from outside Gov. Christie’s legacy and administration and become her own person.

"Christie is so unpopular, and most people don’t take Guadagno’s candidacy all that seriously,” Harrison said.

Murray said not having a special election would be a big advantage for Guadagno, who could “who could build name recognition and run as the incumbent in 2017, and it would also clear the field of possible republican challengers.”

Murray added the fact that Christie might resign early on was probably one of the reasons Murphy got into the race early on — to try and boost his name recognition as someone who has already officially declared he’s a candidate.

He also pointed out a special election – if it takes place — would only be for the remainder of Christie’s term, which would be one year. Then another regular gubernatorial election would be held in November of 2017.

“What this would mean is that whoever wins the election in 2016 would probably not do much in their first year as Governor because they know they’ve got another election to win so they don’t want to tick off some constituents,” he said.

According to Murray, anyone who won a special election would be limited by the State Constitution to only one full term after that — that person couldn't serve a single year as an elected governor, and then two full terms on top of it.

That's another advantage for Guadagno — if she stepped into the governor's office without a special election, her year of service until the end of Christie's term wouldn't count toward the term limit.

When Townsquare Media news contacted the New Jersey Attorney General’s office to confirm a candidate who won a special election (for a year) would only be eligible to run in one additional election (for 4 years), the AG's office sent a response indicating it might legally be a point of contention, and that would not be proper for the AG’s office to offer a legal opinion at this time.

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