Eyewitness News

Special election

Tuesday, June 04, 2013
Bill Ritters daily take on the news.

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.

What a small political needle Chris Christie is trying to thread with his plan to figure out who will replace the late U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg. Did he succeed with his call for two special elections?

That depends on whom you ask, and how they parse it.

The New Jersey Governor had several options - all of them complicated, especially for a man who may have his eye on a White House Run in 2016, and who wants a huge victory in his own re-election in November.

His decision to hold two special elections - a primary on Aug. 13 and a general election on Oct. 16 - means that New Jersey taxpayer will spend more than $24 million on these two elections. Small potatoes to be sure, given New Jersey's $28 billion budget, but real money nonetheless. Enough to pay the salaries of about 400 teachers, or 1,000 students in Newark. I'm just sayin'.

So Gov. Christie, who likes to promote himself as a fiscal conservative, risks criticism about spending the money. Although he discounts that. "I don't know what the costs are and quite frankly I don't care," he said today.

The bigger political consideration was NOT having the second special election be part of the general election 3 weeks later. That would have saved a cool $12 million. But more importantly, it would have meant that Gov. Christie's re-election race would have been listed second on the ballot - beneath the election for Lautenberg's replacement. And the inclusion of the U.S. Senate race would have brought out more Democrats to vote, in a state where Dems have a 700,000 voter registration advantage over Repubs.

So this was a calculated political decision that will cost taxpayers $24 million.

State Senator Richard Codey, speaking for the Dems, said this was as if Christie "gave the residents of this state the finger and that finger will cost $24 million."

We'll have the latest on the brouhaha, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, the talker today was a tragic story, and it's what so many parents worry about walking on the streets of New York: Out of control cars. A 4-year-old girl was hit and killed today by a teenager who allegedly sped away from cops as he was stopped on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The teenage driver drove off - and then crashed into a building. According to police, he then backed up and ran over the girl and her grandmother, who were walking on the sidewalk. The grandmother is now in critical condition. We can only imagine what this family is going through tonight.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Laura Behnke (in for Rob Powers) with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER

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