New Jersey Court Rejects Challenge To Christie’s Special Election Schedule

A New Jersey Court has turned down a challenge to Governor Christie’s decision to schedule the Special Election for an open Senate race in October instead of November:

A three-judge appellate panel has rejected a challenge to Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to call a special election to fill the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s seat in October, three weeks before the regularly scheduled November election.

“Without question, the Governor was authorized to call a special election in this circumstance,” state Superior Court Judge Jane Grall wrote.

Grall said the Legislature “has delegated broad authority to the State’s governor.”

On June 4 – the day after Lautenberg died — Christie announced plans hold a special primary on Aug. 13 followed by a special general election on Oct. 16 – a Wednesday — to fill his seat.


The court challenge was filed on Friday by Peg Schaffer, the Somerset County Democratic chairwoman, though she said she was not acting on the party’s behalf.

Schaffer argued that Christie should have called the Senate election at the same time as his own gubernatorial election three weeks later. She said holding it in October was designed to confuse voters and disenfranchise them.

“Two deadlines for absentee ballots. Two ballots for the elections. Two registration deadlines,” Schaffer said last week. “It’s designed to lead to confusion.”

Schaffer, in a phone interview tonight, said she will decide on Friday whether to appeal the decision after discussing it with groups that filed sympathetic briefs in the case.

“We’re going to talk to each other and decide whether or not it’s going to be fruitful,” Schaffer said. “”Needless to say I disagree with the decision.”

The court did not rule on the “wisdom” of calling the special election for October, Grall wrote, because it is “beyond the scope of our review.”

Grall wrote there’s no evidence that having the two elections so close together burdens voters, calling it a “matter of speculation.”

If the case were appealed it would go to the State Supreme Court, but given the fact that the relevant statutes give the Governor unfettered discretion in scheduling a Special Election, it’s hard to see how that Court could credibly rule in any other manner.

FILED UNDER: 2013 Election, Law and the Courts, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Caj says:

    Chris Christie did what he did as he was scared of being on the ballot with Cory Booker. If he was legally allowed to do it I guess it will stand but people know the reason it was done in the first place.