Christie's 'October Surprise' Aimed at Affecting Voter Turnout

Wednesday, 05 Jun 2013 03:31 PM

By John Gizzi

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's decision to set October 16 as the date of a special Senate election was made with a mind to maximize voter turnout for Republicans in the race to fill the seat of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg while minimizing Democratic turnout in November.

With the special election and the primary costing state taxpayers an estimated $12 million each, there is bewilderment over why Christie didn't just hold the special election concurrently with state elections in November — when the governor is a shoo-in for re-election and could help his fellow Republican running for the Senate.

One former Republican elected official told Newsmax that special elections generally have lower turnout than general elections in November, and that may work to the GOP's advantage in the Senate battle.

"The governor knows Republicans do better in special elections when the contest is alone than when it is on a ballot with a lot of other offices," the former official said. "The party's turnout mechanism will pack more of a punch in October, and the expected low turnout will favor the Republican candidate."

Democratic State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver charged that Christie made his decision to help in his own re-election bid.

"The November general election date is what's best for taxpayers and voter turnout. It's unquestionably the best option, but Gov. Christie has chosen to put partisan politics and his self-interest first," Oliver told the Associated Press.

With popular Democratic Newark Mayor Cory Booker likely to run for the Senate seat, Christie's move insures they won't both be on the ballot on the same day.

Christie, who is expected to name a Republican temporary successor to Lautenberg sometime early next week, won the GOP primary on Tuesday against token opposition and will face the Democratic primary winner, state Sen. Barbara Buono, in November.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax

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