The New Jersey Supreme Court declined to review Governor Chris Christie’s decision to hold a special election Oct. 16 to replace deceased U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg.
The court declined a request to review a lower appeals court ruling rejecting a challenge to Christie’s decision to hold a vote within 20 days of the Nov. 5 general election. Ten state organizations had supported a lawsuit claiming the move would reduce turnout and incur unnecessary costs of about $12 million.
“The petition for certification is denied, which disposes of the matter before this court and renders plaintiffs’ motion for emergent relief moot,” Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote in a one-page order issued today.
Lautenberg, an 89-year-old Democrat, died June 3. Christie, a Republican, called for a quick campaign to select a successor to fill out the remainder of his fifth term. Christie appointed his attorney general, Jeffrey Chiesa, to fill the Senate seat until the Oct. 16 election.
Peg Schaffer, Somerset County Democratic chairwoman, filed an emergency challenge to the special election date on June 7 as a battle for the Democratic nomination began. U.S. Representative Frank Pallone and state Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver joined Newark Mayor Cory Booker and U.S. Representative Rush Holt in filing papers to enter the Aug. 13 primary.
State Senator Barbara Buono, 59, Christie’s Democratic opponent had called the election date “a cynical decision” by the governor that will disenfranchise voters.
“We are extremely gratified by the result, in which the Supreme Court clearly recognized that Governor Christie acted within the law established by the Legislature,” Michael Drewniak, Christie’s press secretary, said in an e-mail.
Schaffer said her group has yet to decide whether it will join any federal challenge to the ruling. She expects at least some of those advocacy groups involved in the case to seek redress from a higher court.
“We’re surprised and disappointed at the unwillingness of the Supreme Court to take up the case,” Schaffer said today in a phone interview. “Essentially, they said they were not even going to weigh in.”
The case is Grillo v. Christie, A-4648-12T2, Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division (Trenton).
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