Transcript for NJ Gov. Chris Christie's Call Means 2 Elections in 3 Weeks
This is a special report from ABC news. Hello everyone I'm Tanya Rivero in new York and this is an ABC news digital special report. Decision time in New Jersey little more than 24 hours after the death United States senator Frank Lautenberg -- governor Chris Christie is set to discuss his plans for a special election to replace him the -- how how much it's going to cost of being debated. Not to mention who Christie will appoint until those votes are capitalized let's listen in. That need to be -- in Washington are too great to be determined by an appointee. For a period of eighteen months. We must build our citizens that are out there said. Over who were present them in the senate from majority of the next year and a half. People of New Jersey deserve to have that voice. Secondly. We have to move swiftly to fill the seat and ensure that -- -- -- -- primary. And general election as soon as possible. As dictated by New Jersey -- that -- -- I have today issues would we not that that was specifically designate the cause and purpose of this special election. And -- -- the primary and general elections will be held. The -- and the Democratic Party will be. A primary election is necessary. The people must choose. As such pursuant to the provisions of new Jersey state law. The primary election for United States senate will be held on Tuesday. August 13. 2013. Which is seventy days -- to the issuance of this -- today. And then 64 days there after. The general special election will be held on Wednesday. October 16. The statute provides. For the governor of New Jersey to make this decision. If the governor deems it advisable. To have a special election. I deem it advisable to have a special election in fact I deem it necessary. The dates are what the statute requires. And at the same time. There is enough time to guarantee a fair process. In voter engagement throughout. The special election must honor the electoral process in the -- rights of the people have a choice. Of voice and timely elections. And while there will be a cost associated with the special election process the state will be responsible for all the cost of this election. We are calling the special election we will be responsible for all of the associated cost. That's such as secretary of State's office will oversee this process and the mechanisms were to require. To ensure that it runs smoothly. And I complete confidence in their ability to do so. In the end the cost associated with -- having special primary general election in my mind. Cannot be measured against the value. Having elected representative in the United States senate with so many consequential issues are being debated and determined. This year. The citizens of New Jersey. Need to have an elected representative to the United States senate and happen as soon as possible. I've yet to make a determination -- Who I will appoint. To hold this seat. Between now. And the results of the October 16. Special election but when I determine who that person is I will make that announcement prompted. Questions. I want to have an elected senator as soon as possible. And it dates in the -- you don't permitted to happen to him. You know there's seventy to 76 days 64 seventy days I want to do -- as quickly as possible it's three weeks before the general election. It's -- there's no political purpose this the political purposes to give people voice my other option the option to have a general election is not an option. The only option I have is do -- due in 2014. Or special election in 2013. I believe. That it is vitally important for the people to have a voice and a choice. And the statute clearly and unequivocally. Allows for the governor. In my sole discretion. To make that decision I have made that decision in his final. It has been signed and it's over Bryant. Life. I have made my decision about who will be. I don't make this decision the same way governor -- made his decision in nineteen. 82. And that was on the merits I would pick the person -- I believe. Will be the best represented. Four New Jersey in the United States that there will be tarnished. We know Brian I do have a preference for one party over the other so that my color my -- -- little. -- It because it is a -- -- politics with this Matt. And the fact is I believe that the people we're talking a long time eighteen months a long time. And they're going to be a lot of consequential things that are going to be decided. In the united or could be decided in the United States senate committee -- months and I just so it was too long period of time for any person to have the sole authority. To pick who represents -- the United States senate. I believe the people have a right to make that decision. On the need to have a voice in the choice and I'm giving it to them because I think it's the right thing to do I understand the political advantage that would come to me if I just five's -- person. The sole person decided who would be in the senate represented -- -- months. But I just enough to comfortable doing that the right thing is that the people decide let them decide as quickly as possible. And August 13 the parties will get the chance to nominate their candidates on October 16. They'll get a chance to -- that are. Which means October 17. Someone -- elected person can take the oath of office and enter the United States senate. On behalf of the people New Jersey for the remainder of senator Robert -- -- just think it's the right thing to do and that's why I'm doing Michael. Yeah I mean -- -- like to -- my decision Michaels for another ten days. And and it just that's irresponsible and I wouldn't think it's right for the people of New Jersey you're gonna start debating immigration reform. Next week. It's not right for me to sit and wait. For people to do it I would have to lay quite a period of time and also take dates out there. And dates rather than their inside -- and just that's playing politics and manipulating this is what the statute says if I've come to the conclusion which I have. That it's advisable that the people get a chance to choose -- person for the United States senate had to get to do so as quickly as possible given that. Issues that -- for the United States senate. You know things like immigration reform things like tax reform and the budget. And making sure that we look at entitlement reform all those things the people deserve to have an -- represented the statute gives me. The right to make that determination. And I'm not -- -- highway for making those decisions because politics. Yeah unless like -- well known that there's another statute that says. That if the vacancy occurs within seventy days of the primary election. Which this did that it wouldn't happen until the next succeeding general election. What no armor on them both of them because then invoke them it says unless. The governor -- -- advisable to have a special election. And that's in both statutes and so I have -- -- advisable. Have a special election and we're having a special election that's into the discussion. I don't know what the cost is not quite frankly don't care. I don't think you can put a price tag on what it's worth having elected person in the United States senate and if I will do we have right need to do to make sure those costs are covered. Because all the people of the signatures will benefit from it and we're not going to be penny wise and pound foolish man here -- What's a typical thousand signatures -- we will put out. Later on today. A list of the dates put my mind when I'm being told is that it'll be about two weeks for people to get thousand signatures. If if a statewide candidate -- thousand signatures in two weeks in my opinion in my experience they have no -- running for for statewide office. Same thing because we have -- -- looser rules here so I think it would apply. Everybody's gonna have to get here -- -- worked on if there was an independent -- for the Republican Party. Because of the sore loser rule that we have that we have here Richards Charlie. November of 2014. -- I don't know in New Jersey I think. Peoples who over everything so you know I don't know what are reportedly themselves are not surely -- them -- I think is best in the best interest of the people of the state. And you know I think. As as the as lots of work around the state have opined in the press in the last 2448 hours I think. Hold this election November of 2014. Is an absolutely defensible. Legal position. But I don't think it's right. Oh it's right for me to make this determination for eighteen months for the people of New Jersey that still might determinations about based upon the law. It's basic public right and and unfortunate that the statue -- actions. Provide that if the governor teams it advisable to call special election he or she can do so I think that advisable and a daughter -- It. Now. I would make any preconditions on anyone. Under -- -- and say that I accidentally preconditions and went on to pick the person I believed to be the best person. Then that person. It's gonna determine when they want to run for the seat are not. And so I'm not looking for any particular person. You don't -- -- stories -- two buckets of people write the place holder people and the people who are candidates and do one bucket of people as far as I'm concerned. And those people are the people were -- qualified to serve breakfast and futures the United States that and if that person determines that want to run great if they determined that a 11 great to it does not matter to me that's not. He did that factor upon which helping to -- the factories who's the best person. In my mind to represent New Jersey with honesty and forthrightness. And intelligence. Over the course of the the next. 134. Days -- -- Between whatever the nomination happens and and the on the October 16 special election. And. But I think you know I'd like the person be as much like me as possible -- You don't listen I'm going to be -- be looking for somebody logistical be good United States senator and and there's all different kinds of assets that different people break. I'm -- looking for a particular kind of experience -- has to be elected person or not. Pass to be a business person or non while looking for is the best person and obviously and I assume this this morning outside. The firehouse and -- them. Senator -- birds death while regrettable is not a shock we all knew that he had been ill for quite some period of time it hadn't been able to come to work. With rare exception. It's so obvious is something that we give some thought to for a while this might be -- possibility so I do have a list. In my head. And I'm going through that list and and and that I will make a decision and you'll know me I I don't all. I'll make that decision relatively quickly but I felt this was really important today even -- -- was not yet ready to make a decision. That was really important community you lay out the process for all those people who -- to seek the office for them to know. The fire that that the gun has been fired it's time to go -- primary in August 13. Here enduring get going get running both sides enter any independents want to give him that it applies to -- -- people -- on that list. More than one less than a hundred. Sure are mean listen I've so -- what are the gateway tunnel. Or whether it's the seven train. We've been participating conversations on both those projects we saw some encouraging things happen with the gateway tunnel in the past ten days or so. And I've always said I actually believe we need a second commuter -- But I am I'm not going to have the taxpayers of New Jersey bear the burden of every dollar of -- of any project. And half the city of New York in the State of New York paying nothing. And half the tunnel and -- on -- Macy's. Where notre transfer people today it was a flawed. Failed. Project. That was going to cost the people of New Jersey -- fortune. And so if we can find a project that gets the Penn Station. That. Is a shared cost where New Yorkers New Jersey -- an Americans all share in the cost and it's a fair share. Are always happy to consider that to be part -- and -- and we have been participating. And pain. To be participants for studies on the seven train and we are working with the folks that record -- -- Tulsa while I. I've always believed that has to happen but not that project. Was a -- And and it's a dog that that deserved. To be gone and it's gone. Yes. -- -- -- -- -- play off of offer price questioned how much can give you any indication as to who's on the list. What -- gender is what the political party is what can tell you is that you know they'll be people who will be eligible -- the constitution. To represent New Jersey in the United States and that. I can -- -- -- -- indication there. -- Listen I can't I can't worry. About some of the nonsense that gets written I just can't the fact is that a high fever the people selecting who represents. Not me. The people. Selecting who represents them and that's what I intend to do that's what this Rick those today and asked for the rest of militants if if if I spent. Nearly as much time as others apparently -- looking at what's on the Internet I would lose my mind so I'm not think you really can't be concerned -- -- The people that I normally consult Charlie. Principal architect. But now I would I would suspect that that person will become an instant inquiry. That's what normally happens right. -- -- put them behind loyalty when you interview them and then he'll appoint them the forgotten the name I mean I assume that's what will happen here too. And and I don't expect this will be any different. So now this will be my proxy down there by the way I'm a little busy appear. So if if whoever our nominee starts calling me and asking me whether to vote closure on something to tell them that's what point did you -- leave -- alone. So I know I don't any concern about that bottom line is people will. Folks like you and other commentators. Will conclude wherever you're gonna conclude from where Brightpoint. And my guess is that no matter who aren't going to Democrat you'll probably call my proxy herb -- Not that I can do about that you know fact is. I intend to appoint people who are independent minded Smart and diligent and who will not be you know calling -- on my cellphone. To ask me how this was the -- the United States senate has candidly that's not my job my job is to -- the state in New Jersey and that's what I intend to do. So you know when you -- -- leverage to conclude. So I want to thank -- -- for taking the talks come today -- appreciated. The primary election will be on August 13. The general election will be on October 16. So for all of you who -- -- with the governor's race I've -- solved your problem. So you got something else the cover itself -- to do. So death -- -- negotiate that with your -- I got nothing to do with your -- but -- have plenty to do plated covering most importantly. The people of New Jersey. In -- 130 some days while the opportunity to so -- Who's going to represent them. Over the next fifteen months or so -- -- in the United States senate that is my principal objective in making this decision. And I'm using the legal. Tools that are available to me under both statutes covering the situation. I deem it advisable figure to be a special election because I believe it's preferable. That the people of this state -- representatives in the United States senate. Not to have a group of insiders Stuart and that's not what we're gonna do it here -- -- So very -- and New Jersey governor Chris Christie primaries will be held in August and the special election to replace senator Lautenberg we'll take place this November. Let's bring in now ABC news political director Rick -- to help clear the -- up high -- it this plan goes ahead I want to clarify. Cory Booker new -- popular democratic mayor will not be on the same ballot as -- this November is that right. This is classic Chris Christie in every sense look he is just ordered and it's just pulled up in court it will happen. That New Jersey residents will choose the United States senator on October 16 a Wednesday by the way not even a regular Election Day. And that it will choose a governor twenty days later that is -- separate. Statewide elections within the span of three weeks now off from Christie's perspective this says this is the earliest possible time that you can get. Residents of the polls Russell having a full primary election and then a general election campaign. The political end of this though is as you point out this means that he will be a loan atop the November ballot when he is up for reelection New Jersey governor's. Are actually elected on these odd numbered years I was a little bit unusual in that sense. And it means that there will not be a Democrat -- we run very strongly for the senate whether as Cory Booker or someone else. Who would be also be on the ticket the same day so Chris Christie. -- -- slices the baby if you different ways here but the end result is that New Jersey will pick a United States senate they're just to less than three weeks before they choose a governor. And of course whenever the elections take place Cristi has to -- a stand in for senator Lautenberg. Who is that likely to be and what -- into his decision making process we did here and crack a joke that he obviously have a preference for certain political party. That's right the presumption and I think his strong -- there is that would would be -- Republican. There was one lot of thought that said look he is the governor of -- very democratic state choose a Democrat like senator Lott Merkel is a proud new deal era liberal. Minnesota for a long time and predictably liberal on all sorts of issues including immigration -- shall come up. Just next week he seemed to put that -- -- by talking about a Republican he also said he had no precondition in his mind as to whether that person would want to. Seek a full term or not. There's a couple of names that have been in contention so far what I think is intriguing is is former governor Tom Kean he served a couple of terms as governor of New Jersey in the 1980s and then it went on to chair the 9/11 commission. This -- be in non controversial pick in the sense that. Even be someone that could be consensus choice kind of a statesman like role unlikely to seek a full terms he wouldn't be seen -- putting his thumb on the scale. -- a number of other prominent Republicans including his own lieutenant governor. Who were definitely be contention for this he's been close to people -- -- in new Jersey Republican circles in the past I think he'll be under some pressure from national Republicans. To choose someone who won't just warmed that seat for six months but could actually win a general election campaign this fall and then when the full term is up for election next year. Ask you a question about cost Christie said that he doesn't care what a special election will cost because quote. You can't put a price tag on an elected official do you think that New Jersey voters are likely to agree. I think of general lot of criticism over the fact New Jersey will be holding two separate elections not just for the cost and in a full election. Some 24 million dollars expected to be spent in New Jersey that includes the primary and the general so roughly half of that would just be putting on the general election that we criticism of that. I think they'll also be criticism of him for forcing New Jersey residents of the polls again is not that easy not much fun to go vote. -- -- Twice in a three week span. Is is unusual to say the least but he can fall back and say look I am allowing -- citizens of my state to have their voice in the process as early as loudly as possible the governor has full discretion -- New Jersey to set the dates around these things that will almost certainly be legal challenges as he said its New Jersey people so each other over everything. Whether it will be some question but he -- already signed the order and now it is locked and loaded to happen again just three weeks of for the gubernatorial election locked. And loaded indeed as you said now as we watch this process unfolds Gregg is there anything. To look for any indication about whether Christie will run for president. We keep in mind he's got a couple of goals in this process these kind of things fall into a governor's lap and you may like it. You may not like it if you're probably that you think is Goldman -- and you go to jail over -- be very careful about how you play these things look for Christie. He is on a glide path right now to re election in a very blue state he's approval ratings are astronomical off the charts particularly for Republican. He wants to run up the score in 2013 he wants to not just win but win being -- huge volume on the big. A boost of momentum -- for the city's second term and also as sites -- -- 2016 and he's among those who were being too coy about. Giving a shot. The fact that he -- that a reelected governor in a blue state would be a nice little item on the resonate now he can add to that or subtract from that in that way he meets this election if he chooses someone. Who is more of -- harsh partisan Republican is gonna vote against the Obama agenda and it takes him down a few notches. If he appoint someone who has. Very much in bed with the national Republican movement and in line with what they've been doing in the Tea Party movement. That's a chance for him to repair some relationships that may have been frayed during hurricane sandy and his embrace of President Obama so as -- anything with Chris Christie a lot of complicated angles. And a lot of color. Along the way absolutely indeed we'll certainly all be watching out as time goes on thank you Rick Klein in Washington. And for more on new Jersey's special election -- go to abcnews.com. I'm Tanya Rivero in New York -- -- -- been an ABC news digital special reports. This has been a special report from me.
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