As someone who’s spent hours in traffic jams in New Jersey, I’m overjoyed that Chris Christie is on the hotseat and his presidential ambitions are jeopardized. When it first came out that those lane closures on the George Washington Bridge last fall were an act of political vengeance, it was clear that the most important angle was the contempt for the general public and the abuse of power, and not the payback and bullying. I wondered why the national media wasn’t hopping on the story. Well now they are!
So here’s the Christie story they should get to next, in the same file of selfish contempt for the public: Christie’s staging of a $12 million special election last October to fill the late Frank Lautenberg’s Senate seat, just twenty days before his own election day. Christie didn’t want the two elections happening in November because he was afraid that Senate hopeful Cory Booker being on the Democratic line would knock down Christie’s numbers, because the bipartisan governor draws a lot of Dems.
So he scheduled Booker’s election for Oct. 16, at huge cost to the public.
Christie lied about that too. He said there was “no political purpose” in the decision. The press saw through it.
Christie had the options of scheduling an election for next November , this November , or an earlier date of his choosing. In the end, he went with option three, saying repeatedly that he “deemed it advisable” to do so — hardly the most transparent statement.
Christie claimed that there was “no political purpose” behind his decision, and that he had acted solely to ensure that there is an election as soon as possible. Yet the odd timing of the election date — weeks before Christie’s own re-election, in which he’s a considerable favorite — means he won’t have to share a ballot with Booker, a popular Democrat in the deep-blue state.
That has naturally lead to much speculation that Christie was really just protecting his own political ambitions.
“If the special election had been set for Nov. 5, as New Jersey Democrats had been lobbying for, the potential presence of Booker on the ballot would have been a boon to Christie’s Democratic gubernatorial opponent, state Sen. Barbara Buono,” wrote The Washington Post’s Sean Sullivan. “Buono is losing badly now, but with a well-known Senate candidate ginning up the Democratic base ahead of Election Day, her fortunes could have turned.”
Josh Barro concurred in a post over at Business Insider. “Everyone knows this is B.S.,” Barro wrote of Christie’s claim that he simply wanted to fill the seat sooner. “Christie knows he’s better off if his race and the Senate race are on separate ballots.”
The election cost taxpayers an extra $12 million. Huffpo:
Republican county officials are now joining with their Democratic counterparts to question the cost of New Jersey’s special U.S. Senate election.
The Boards of Chosen Freeholders in Bergen County and Monmouth County on Wednesday publicly questioned how they will be able to pay for the costs of the Aug. 13 special primary election and Oct. 16 special election without the state giving counties the money upfront.
Gov. Chris Christie (R) has pledged that the state will pay the $24 million bill, but by reimbursing local officials who will pay the initial costs — a process that could take as long as seven months.
That special election had a tiny turnout. So Christie was accused of voter suppression, at huge cost:
The decision “disenfranchised” voters, said a Rider University political scientist, Ben Dworkin. Only 24% of registered voters went to the polls in Democrat Cory Booker’s victory over Republican Steve Lonegan…
Critics said this week’s special election increased the state’s election costs by $12 million and that the date Christie picked, which was not a traditional Tuesday election day, suppressed votes…
“I think it was clearly pointed out in the low-voter turnout and the confusion that arose that this was nothing more than a ploy on the part of Governor Christie to suppress the vote,” Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman, a Democrat from Ewing Township, N.J., said in a conference call with reporters Thursday…
Once again, the governor displayed arrogance and contempt for the public:
Christie hasn’t been available for an open press conference in a month. Monmouth University polling director Patrick Murray said the governor wouldn’t be able to fend off questions on the election scheduling.
“It’s an argument he can’t win,” Murray said.
Will the special election have any consequences? NJ Dems said they’d make something of it.
Another state lawmaker said he will push to pass legislation that would take away a governor’s ability to control succession when a U.S. senator is unable to serve. Assemblyman John McKeon’s bill would eliminate the special election option — a measure that Christie called “garbage” when McKeon first proposed it in 2009.
Contempt, abuse, pettiness, self-dealing– Christie trademarks. I confess I find him appealing in other ways. But keep him in New Jersey.