Green Room

Actually, Christie made the shrewd and correct call today

posted at 6:20 pm on June 4, 2013 by

In which I dissent from Allahpundit’s scathing analysis and once again ensconce myself on the candy-ass RINO throne:

Viewing today’s events through a purely political lens, Christie’s actions were pretty savvy.  He tossed a bone to Republicans and Democrats alike while giving both sides something to grouse about, too.  His press announcement was decisive and framed in rhetoric that appeals to citizens’ sense of fair play; he repeatedly intoned that respecting the people’s “voice” and “choice” is his top priority in this matter, and that citizens should get the opportunity to send an elected Senator to the Beltway as soon as the law allows.  Democrats will whine about the supplementary cost of the special election (finally, some spending they oppose!), but I suspect most New Jerseyans won’t care.  Christie has the small-”d” democratic high ground here.  Democrats will get their new Senator sooner rather than later, and Republicans will get a very temporary federal-level placeholder plus a better chance to make gains in November.  Whatever political maneuvering Christie pulled off today, it seems clear that his primary concern is state-level, not national, politics.  Many political reporters are looking at today’s events through the prism of 2016, which I think as a mistake.  Christie is first and foremost positioning himself for a strong re-elect, possibly with down-ballot gains, this fall.  If – if – he has a presidential run in mind, he has obviously concluded that a robust re-election and a fruitful second term will be more valuable to him down the road than a few sops to national conservatives in 2012 and 2013.  It’s a bit frustrating, but I think it’s shrewd.

David Freddoso adds some legal analysis suggesting that Christie followed the letter of the law, thus allowing the people of New Jersey to elect their next United States Senator on the earliest legally-permissible date:

In other words, provided he made the proclamation of Lautenberg’s vacancy today, the latest he could have legally set the election was at the end of October. Christie made a point of mentioning that the primary is 70 days from today, and the general election is 64 days after that — the earliest possible date. Now, I can’t find anything in the statute that says Christie could not have waited a few weeks before issuing a proclamation — theoretically, this might have let him set the election for November 5.

Christie himself conceded that the “wait to declare a vacancy” option was legally viable, but waved it away as unnecessarily politicized foot-dragging.  Also, click through and read the update for a few reasons why Booker may not sail to victory as easily as some might think.  Anyway, I’d stick around to listen to your furious responses, but I have a Beltway Cocktail Party™ to attend.  Peace.

UPDATE – Taking a break between martinis.  The most valid criticism of Christie on this (as I mention in my linked original post) is that he’s wasting $12 million (not $24 million, unless you oppose primaries) to hold the special election a few weeks before a regularly-scheduled general election.  As Freddoso indicates, he’d have to wait a fair amount of time to officially declare the seat vacant to do that, according to the law.  Christie says that’s a gimmick.  Sure, but it’s a money-saving gimmick.  So let’s say Christie had fudged things to assure the elections would all occur on the same day, thus saving millions.  Would conservatives be criticizing him for making Democrats’ lives a lot easier up and down the ballot, which would be the obvious political outcome of that decision?

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GB is becoming more unreadable than Jazz.

besser tot als rot on June 4, 2013 at 6:32 PM

Actually, Christie made the shrewd and correct call today …

… if he wants to continue to be invited to hot-tub with obama.

Pork-Chop on June 4, 2013 at 6:36 PM

besser tot als rot on June 4, 2013 at 6:32 PM

Seemed fairly clear to me. One of his better pieces, imo.

gh on June 4, 2013 at 6:37 PM

Then again … he is about 12 years old, so I guess I should cut him some slack.

besser tot als rot on June 4, 2013 at 6:38 PM

One of his better pieces, imo.

gh on June 4, 2013 at 6:37 PM

Talk about damning with the faintest of praise.

besser tot als rot on June 4, 2013 at 6:39 PM

besser tot als rot on June 4, 2013 at 6:39 PM

Oh be nice. Jazz is not bad on some topics. His stuff on the tar-sands was pretty good. However, your comparisons are not completely wrong …

gh on June 4, 2013 at 6:44 PM

Viewing today’s events through a purely political lens, Christie’s actions were pretty savvy.

Yeah, nothing says savvy like wasting 24 million dollars of taxpayers hard earned money to hold an election two weeks before another election, if that’s what passes as savvy in american government then there’s your problem.

clearbluesky on June 4, 2013 at 6:46 PM

“Roberts smart on Obamacare ruling”

“IRS targeting good for Tea Party”

These “GOP” journalists / consultant types are just trolls.

tetriskid on June 4, 2013 at 6:57 PM

Minor point of order – if Christie truly wanted to go the called-special-election route rather than the November 2014 statutory-special-election route, and still save the state $12.5 million (that honestly should now be charged to his gubernatorial campaign), he only needed to wait 8 days to order the election (76 days between the order and the primary, 70 days between the primary and the general).

Of course, he could have saved the sacrificial RINO the embarrassment and the Jersey taxpayers between $12 million and $25 million, simply appointed Booker, and let the statutory November 2014 special election happen at no additional cost. The only problem is that would have killed his bid for the 2016 2020 GOP Presidential nomination (unless you believe that the GOP will finally not select the NextInLine™).

Steve Eggleston on June 4, 2013 at 7:05 PM

Guy, let me know where these fancy Beltway Cocktail Parties™ are! Unless you’re at the DCCC dinner tonight, RINO that you are ;)

Crispian on June 4, 2013 at 7:23 PM

Politically speaking, Kristie-Kreme brought an overripe banana to a knife fight. It’s what RINOs do.

I sincerely hope that doesn’t have any national aspirations.

ElectricPhase on June 4, 2013 at 7:37 PM

tetriskid, I was very critical of the whole “SCOTUS’ Obamacare ruling was actually a victory in disguise” argument. See:

http://townhall.com/tipsheet/guybenson/2012/06/29/obamacare_affirmed_the_aftermath

Who has argued the IRS’ abuse was a good thing?

Guy Benson on June 4, 2013 at 8:02 PM

The writer regards self-serving political game playing, regardless to how constituents are served ,as ‘shrewd and correct’.

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on June 4, 2013 at 8:07 PM

Dr. CL, yes. Shrewd for reasons explained in the piece. Correct based on the law.

Guy Benson on June 4, 2013 at 8:09 PM

Dr. CL, yes. Shrewd for reasons explained in the piece. Correct based on the law.

Guy Benson on June 4, 2013 at 8:09 PM

Shrewd if Chris Christie only gives a greasy brown shit about himself. “Correct based on the law” doesn’t preclude other, better options. I think Mister Pennypincher’s true colors are starting to shine through.

gryphon202 on June 4, 2013 at 8:15 PM

gryphon, not just himself — the entire GOP ticket. As someone whose parents are NJ taxpayers, I’m all for Christie improving his chances of governing in a second term with a less Dem-dominated legislature. I suspect second-term CC will be more conservative than first-term CC. If that’s not the case, I’ll probably join the critical chorus.

Guy Benson on June 4, 2013 at 8:23 PM

[snipped for brevity] I suspect second-term CC will be more conservative than first-term CC. If that’s not the case, I’ll probably join the critical chorus.

Guy Benson on June 4, 2013 at 8:23 PM

Do you actually have any evidence on which to base that assertion? Because I have plenty on which to refute it. You remind me of the Republican voters that assured me Bush would be more conservative in his second presidential term. Remember how he tacked right? You don’t? Neither do I.

gryphon202 on June 4, 2013 at 8:41 PM

… if he wants to continue to be invited to hot-tub with obama.

Pork-Chop on June 4, 2013 at 6:36 PM

…. there goes my dinner …

Freddy on June 4, 2013 at 8:49 PM

Let’s call it what it is, folks. Guy Benson is hoping that Christie will tack right.

AmIright, Guy?

Let’s not forget what happens when politicians sell us on hope.

gryphon202 on June 4, 2013 at 9:04 PM

This Christie character is rather Clintonian.

Punchenko on June 4, 2013 at 9:11 PM

Anyway, I’d stick around to listen to your furious responses, but I have a Beltway Cocktail Party™ to attend. Peace.

Sitting around the kitchen table with the Jonah Goldbergs drinking awful Walmart-bought boxed wine is not a “Beltway Cocktail Party”, Guy. :-(

I would also add the National Review snooze cruise sounds pretty awful, too. :-(

What you should have done was become a sleeper within Big Prestige Media spouting coded conservatism in your writing. Then you would get to go to the *great parties* and subvert the MSM from within. If you rose high enough you could open the back door for more conservative subversives to sneak in. :-)

Punchenko on June 4, 2013 at 9:25 PM

Candy-assed RINO doesn’t do you justice, little boy.

Word: Chris Christie had better switch to the Democrat party. He is a dead letter in the GOP.

PD Quig on June 4, 2013 at 11:00 PM

gryphon, yes, I’m hoping CC will govern more conservatively in his second term. But as a native New Jerseyan, I’d even be satisfied if he maintained his current ideological course. He is much, much better than any NJ governor in my lifetime, and has done quite a few conservative things that I never thought I’d see in the Garden State. My analysis is that *if* he has an eye on 2016 and armed with more Republican allies in Trenton, CC will tack more to the right over a second term. That’s not an insane calculation. I’m not endorsing the guy for president — he’s definitely not my first choice — but I am enthusiastically endorsing him for 4 more years in New Jersey. Also, he is literally the most popular elected Republican in the country in terms of approval ratings, so I’m also wary of people who seem eager to banish him from the party.

Guy Benson on June 4, 2013 at 11:07 PM

gryphon, yes, I’m hoping CC will govern more conservatively in his second term. But as a native New Jerseyan, I’d even be satisfied if he maintained his current ideological course. He is much, much better than any NJ governor in my lifetime, and has done quite a few conservative things that I never thought I’d see in the Garden State. My analysis is that *if* he has an eye on 2016 and armed with more Republican allies in Trenton, CC will tack more to the right over a second term. That’s not an insane calculation. I’m not endorsing the guy for president — he’s definitely not my first choice — but I am enthusiastically endorsing him for 4 more years in New Jersey. Also, he is literally the most popular elected Republican in the country in terms of approval ratings, so I’m also wary of people who seem eager to banish him from the party.

Guy Benson on June 4, 2013 at 11:07 PM

Guy, as someone who has firsthand knowledge of what living in a blood-red largely rural state is like, it saddens me to know that the bar there in Jersey has been set so low.

Let me leave you with a final thought tonight: Many of us here at HotAir thought that “he’s not Obama” would be enough to see Romney through to the Oval office. I had hoped so at any rate, even as unsure as I was about that particular matter. Suffice it to say, that wasn’t enough. If the best thing that Chris Christie has going for him is that he’s not a Democrat, I suggest you at least peer out that Overton Window and see just how far it’s moved in the last 50 years over there on the east coast.

gryphon202 on June 4, 2013 at 11:15 PM

With the scandals and Obamacare weighing against the Democrats, 2013 could be a good year. Since Republicans are more likely to turn out in smaller elections than all those Honey-Boo-Boo Dems, splitting the elections improves the Republicans changes significantly. Winning a race you weren’t expecting to win is worth a lot of points, especially if it’s a Senate race.

Let’s see how this turns out before spouting off on whether Christie is a genius or a dolt. $12 million isn’t much more than what the IRS can spend on a single CONFERENCE.

Pythagoras on June 4, 2013 at 11:24 PM

We probably aren’t going to know how this plays out for Christie until November, based on the election results.

If he does end up lowering Democratic Party turnout for the November election to the point that Republicans are able to take control of both houses of the New Jersey Legislature and give Chirstie greater control of the agenda in the two-year run-up to the presidential campaign, Christie actually comes out ahead here (assuming he, you know, actually tries to push some conservative ideas with his new GOP majority). But if he fails to get that majority or even loses Republican seats in the Leg while still winning re-election, the current optics will hold and they’re terrible for him in 2016.

At the moment, moving the election to October comes across on its face as a guy with a 30 point lead in the polls and running against a bland Democratic Party challenger being fearful that simply having Corey Booker on the ballot in a Senate election in November would threaten to endanger his re-election. That speaks of a guy not very confident of his own record and messaging ability, if he actually thinks he can’t hold a 30-point lead because of another race on the ballot, let alone Christie’s ability to hold moderates and/or gain the votes of middle-of-the road Democrats in some hypothetical 2016 presidential election.

Doing it this way now puts pressure on Christie not only to win his own race handily, but to also show he’s got coattails in pulling enough N.J. Republicans with him to control the Legislature, since the Democrats will have no high-profile ‘name’ candidate on the ballot in November.

jon1979 on June 4, 2013 at 11:28 PM

Ok, I’ll say it:

It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about what Christie did except for the people of New Jersey. If the majority of the people of New Jersey want to vote for their Senator, then they should be able to vote for their Senator. I believe most people in most states would want such a vote. Now that just leaves the timing. Christie was shrewd to place the vote on a different date from the election in which he will be appearing because with Booker running for the Senate seat, the entire Democrat GOTV machine will be working that day. The Republicans don’t have anything like that so Christie would likely lose.

But the bottom line is that what people here that are living in other states want doesn’t matter. What matters is what the people of New Jersey want.

crosspatch on June 5, 2013 at 1:16 AM

By the above I mean, if Christie did what “the GOP” wanted rather than what the people want, is that not tyranny? And I am dead serious. I see a bit of a double standard on this issue in the various comments, tweets, and blog postings. It is as if people are saying: To hell with what the people want, do what is best for the GOP or what is best for “conservatism”. That attitude is the same thing they would scream bloody murder over if it was what was best for “progressivism” or what was best for the Democratic Party.

Let the people decide, let the chips fall where they may. Using political manipulations to lock partisans into seats for the maximum amount of time is the kind of crap we should be fighting against. If we do that, then we are no better then they are. It’s ok when WE do it, bad when they do it. Baloney. Just give the people their vote.

crosspatch on June 5, 2013 at 2:42 AM

GB: He is much, much better than any NJ governor in my lifetime

Heh, 12 years ain’t so very long, kid.

crosspatch: It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about what Christie did except for the people of New Jersey.

But, I am interested in what’s on ex-GF , Ann Coulter’s mind, tho.

socalcon on June 5, 2013 at 3:59 AM

‘Legal Analysis’ based on : I can’t find anything in the statute … Assures me not.

socalcon on June 5, 2013 at 4:03 AM

But the bottom line is that what people here that are living in other states want doesn’t matter. What matters is what the people of New Jersey want.

crosspatch on June 5, 2013 at 1:16 AM

Actually, the only thing that matters is what Christie wants. It’s cute you think he cares about NJ taxpayers and not himself though.

Spliff Menendez on June 5, 2013 at 7:33 AM

I usually like Guy’s perspective on things, but the mindset that a few million here and there don’t matter drives me nuts.

That’s how we’re trillions in debt. That attitude.

ButterflyDragon on June 5, 2013 at 8:17 AM

Chris Christie’s reelection and the margin of victory are the most important things here. Good to know that he is willing to waste money if it benefits Chris Christie.

Illinidiva on June 5, 2013 at 9:33 AM

If Buono gets elected it will cost us here in NJ a hell of a lot more than 12 million.

Mr. Bingley on June 5, 2013 at 10:18 AM

GB has been spending way too much time with Hewitt and he’s fast becoming a RINO. Christie is pathetic. I’m wondering what the Over/Under on his switching to the democrat party.

JimfromTemecula on June 5, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Guy, you are correct:

Here was a portion of a comment I posted on AllahPundit’s post.

Christie did exactly the right thing by providing for an election to fill the seat for the remainder of the term. The only question was when the election would be held.

People can fault him for separating the two elections out on fiscal grounds, but he would have had to engage in an extremely uncomfortable fiction in order to hold the two elections on the same day (in November) — i.e., he would have had to not publicly declaring the existence of the vacancy for at least a week from now.

By NJ law, as cited in David’s piece:

[I]f a special day is designated, it shall specify the cause and purpose of such election, the name of the officer in whose office the vacancy has occurred, the day on which a special primary election shall be held, which shall be not less than 70 days nor more than 76 days following the date of such proclamation [of the vacancy], and the day on which the special election shall be held, which shall be not less than 64 nor more than 70 days following the day of the special primary election.

Go ahead and count. It means a late October special election at the latest.

Incidentally, it doesn’t matter what the Office of Legislative Services (OLS) said about the “conflicting” provisions of state law. A state court would have ended up settling the matter, and anyone who takes even one second to remember the state Supreme Court’s decision in the Torricelli case, would certainly want to think twice about ever again allowing the courts to resolve a political election question!

Christie firmly kept the issue within his own political bailiwick by deciding it the way he did.

And, if he had tried to appoint someone for the remainder of the term, he would have also faced a risky court battle over that issue, too, a fight which Democrats would have gleefully waged, and which could have also risked his own position (and the legislative contenders) in November if he lost — that was both an unacceptable political and legal risk.

Finally, there are other very important reasons that Christie’s decision was absolutely the right one. By deciding to do it this way, there will now be a very contentious fight amongst at least three N.J. Democrats (Cory Booker, Cong. Rob Andrews and Cong. Frank Pallone) and I’ll add likely a fourth — Cong. Rush Holt, who has publicly expressed an interest — to garner that Democrat nomination, at a critical time for local legislative race fundraising, and also fundraising for the gubernatorial candidate, Barbara Buono.

Now, Congressman Frank Pallone has a pretty big war chest, and will seriously contend any Booker bid. Even if it ends up with the two of them contending as front-runners, it will still split Democrats badly, right before the Senatorial race, and soon thereafter in the gubernatorial race.

The reality is that all three or four of those Democrats will be furiously fund raising in competition with contenders for all 120 state level legislative positions — both the NJ State Senate (40 seats), and the NJ State General Assembly (80 seats) are up this year. As you can see, the Senate is currently 24 – 16, but with all the Senate seats up, there is a possibility of Republicans picking up several seats.

The national Democrats will be pulling out all the financial stops just to keep that U.S. Senate seat, and tapping the NJ Democrat donors big time.

But, in the Gubernatorial race, if Chris gets a big margin of victory, his coattails could bring in large numbers in the NJ State Senate and the NJ State General Assembly, ala former Gov. Tom Kean’s big victory in 1985.

Nothing would help that possibility more than a local pinch on Democrat fundraising coffers because three or four Democrat bigs statewide are duking it out in order to get a nomination for the U.S. Senate contest!

The only remaining piece — and an important one — is who Chris picks to fill the seat until October. Will it be a place holder (ala the Nick Brady selection by former Gov. Tom Kean back in ’82), or will it be a serious Republican contender for the seat (probably after having consulted with the county chairs), thereby giving whoever the choice is, a solid leg up for the nomination for the fall race?

Get it? This move of a) providing for a special election AND b) separating out the two races was tactically brilliant on his part.

Trochilus on June 5, 2013 at 5:14 PM

Ok, I’ll say it:

It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about what Christie did except for the people of New Jersey. If the majority of the people of New Jersey want to vote for their Senator, then they should be able to vote for their Senator. I believe most people in most states would want such a vote. Now that just leaves the timing. Christie was shrewd to place the vote on a different date from the election in which he will be appearing because with Booker running for the Senate seat, the entire Democrat GOTV machine will be working that day. The Republicans don’t have anything like that so Christie would likely lose.

But the bottom line is that what people here that are living in other states want doesn’t matter. What matters is what the people of New Jersey want.

crosspatch on June 5, 2013 at 1:16 AM

I hadn’t read your comment before I posted mine here and previously on Allah’s post.

You are spot on in many respects, with one notable exception. You should not assume that Cory Booker will be a shoe-in for the nomination. The Democrats are going to have a real expensive, and potentially divisive fight over the nomination for that seat. Congressman Pallone from the upper shore area has a sizable war chest. Congressman Rush Holt, whose district cuts across central Jersey, has said he is in as well. And others are likely contenders, at a minimum including Congressman Rob Andrews from South Jersey.

In November, the entire New Jersey Legislature is up as well — 40 Senate Seats and 80 General Assembly Seats. The Democrats currently control both, but if Chris wins reelection big — which at this point he should — history tells us that he could have impressive coattails. The 1985 Gubernatorial race was a good example. That was when Tom Kean helped bring in a Republican Majority in the General Assembly — something that had not happened in years. To the extent that the Democrats spend their money, time and effort on the Senate seat, they will not be minding the store in other regards.

And do not assume that the Democrat nominee is the automatic winner. It is true that NJ is a nominally blue state, and that electing a U.S. Senator has eluded Republicans for a long time. But Democrat scandal is pungent in Washington, and is not likely to dissipate by the fall.

Chris Christie thought this through before he made his announcement, and much of the initial angry and critical reaction is baseless, gut reaction from thoughtless people. How stupid can people be than to criticize the Governor for saying that we should have the ability to elect a replacement for the remainder of the term?

Trochilus on June 6, 2013 at 3:20 AM