Lautenberg's Death Opens 'Pandora's Box' for Christie

All paths to a new senator are thorny for potential 2016 candidate

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 4, 2013 10:34 AM CDT

(Newser) – Following the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, the ball is in Chris Christie's court—but the next move is a dicey one for a man seen as poised for a presidential run. A number of options are open to the Republican governor, the New York Times reports. If he opts for a November election to fill the seat, Newark Mayor Cory Booker would be the likely Democratic candidate. That could bring out Democratic voters in droves, and would put Christie's own reelection bid on the same ballot as Booker's run for senate—a situation Christie is desperate to avoid, GOP sources tell the Times.

Many Republicans are instead urging Christie to choose an interim Republican senator and hold an election in 2014. That would mean a rare New Jersey Republican vote in the Senate, but it could also bring attacks on Christie for pushing his own party over a quick election—unwanted criticism for a candidate known for bipartisan appeal. Finally, Christie could hold a primary vote as soon as August, followed by an October special election. That, however, would offer a stronger hand to Booker, and Christie might be criticized for spending $24 million on a pair of pre-November votes in order to help his own political cause. It's a "Pandora’s box of political choices," says a New Jersey political expert.

In this Nov. 13, 2012 file photo, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks at a news conference in Trenton, NJ.
In this Nov. 13, 2012 file photo, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks at a news conference in Trenton, NJ.   (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)
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