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In a decision with huge political implications, the New Jersey governor called for a special election to replace Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died Monday at age 89.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is walking a political tightrope in deciding who should replace Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died Monday at age 89.
Christie has called for a special election for October 16, with an August primary, to fill the seat of the late Democratic senator.
Murky state laws mean the decision of how to fill the empty seat is largely in the hands of the governor.
The timing of the election is sure to stoke criticism that Christie is spending millions of taxpayer money on an unnecessary early election to serve his own political needs.
A special election will cost millions of dollars more than adding the race to the November ballot.
But, according to POLITICO, the timing means that the popular Democratic mayor of Newark, Cory Booker, will not be on the ballot during Christie's re-election bid in November.
Christie would likely want to avoid sharing a ballot with Booker, who is expected to run for the Senate seat, because the mayor's popularity would drive up Democratic turnout - causing a problem for the Republican Christie.
More from GlobalPost: Frank Lautenberg, oldest US senator, dies at 89
Christie denied the timing of the election was political and said that the state will pick up the election tab.
"The costs associated with having the special election and primary, in my mind, cannot be measured against the value of having an elected member of the US Senate," he said.
"I don’t know what the costs are and quite frankly I don’t care."
Christie did not give any indication of whom he would appoint to fill the seat in the interim and there is no guarantee he would pick a Republican.
Republicans are a rare breed in New Jersey politics. The state has not sent a member of the GOP to the Senate since 1972.
Nationally, members of his party were hoping Christie would postpone the election until Nov. 2014, allowing a hand-selected Republican to help boost the GOP's vote count in the Senate.
According to FoxNews.com, the list of potential candidates Christie could choose includes state Sen. Tom Kean Jr.; Rep. Chris Smith; former Gov. Christie Whitman; state Sen. Joe Kyrillos, who ran for the U.S. Senate last year; state Sen. Kevin O'Toole; or Bill Baroni, the deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.