Court rejects special election challenge

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Frank Lautenberg and Chris Christie

WASHINGTON – The special election is still on.

A New Jersey appellate court has rejected a legal challenge to Gov. Christie’s call for an October special election to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

“The Legislature has delegated broad authority to the State’s governor,” Judge Jane Grall wrote in an opinion for the three-judge panel. She later added, “without question the Governor was authorized to call a special election in this circumstance.”

The challenge, filed by Somerset County Democratic Chair Peg Schaffer, also cited the cost of the two elections – a combined $24 million, when the August primary is counted – and argued that having elections within weeks of each other in October and November could lower turnout. But the judges said they were not entitled to rule on the wisdom of the policy, only the laws surrounding the special election.

None of the state’s top Democrats, chairs or most prominent attorneys signed onto the court challenge, seemingly indicating its long odds from the start.

The Democratic plaintiffs wanted the general election to be moved to the same day as November's gubernatorial election.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono again attacked Christie on the cost of the special elections Thursday night.

"Regardless of the outcome of the court’s decision, holding an election on a Wednesday in October is a cynical decision by Gov. Christie that will disenfranchise voters," Buono said in a statement.

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