Thursday, July 20, 2017


New Jersey will finally be rid of the universally loathed Chris Christie after his successor as governor is chosen in November, but Politico notes that he might get the opportunity to flip a Senate seat:
Gov. Chris Christie is the most unpopular governor in the country, but in his last days in office he may get to exercise enormous influence nationally: Choosing a successor to embattled U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, which could result in a Republican senator, at least temporarily, from deep-blue New Jersey.

Menendez, a Democrat and New Jersey's senior senator, goes on trial for corruption in September, and there are two scenarios that could see him leave Washington before Christie is term-limited out of office in January: If Menendez is convicted and the Senate acts quickly to expel him, or if he cuts a plea deal and leaves office even earlier.
The regularly scheduled election for this seat is in November 2018. If Menendez resigns, Christie's pick could serve until the winner of that election is sworn in in January 2019 -- in other words, for a year or more. Christie has the right to schedule a special election earlier, though he has no reason to do so because he'd like his chosen replacement to hold the seat for as long as possible.

(Christie did schedule a special election after Senator Frank Lautenberg died in 2013. The special election, absurdly, was three weeks before that year's regularly scheduled election. Christie was anticipating a big landslide win that year in his own reelection bid, and he didn't want Cory Booker to win more votes as a Senate candidate than he himself won in the governor's race the same day, so he let Booker run and win on the earlier date.)

Also, there exists the possibility that Christie could (God help us) name himself to the Senate seat -- although I don't think even he has that much gall.

There is, as you know, another Senate seat that could become vacant soon, in Arizona. The Arizona Republic tells us what will happen in that state if John McCain dies or steps down:
... were circumstances to require that McCain be replaced, that person would have to be a Republican, as McCain is, and would serve until the next general election, which happens every two years in Arizona. Whoever was elected would then fill out the rest of McCain's term, according to state law.
Arizona's governor, who would fill the vacancy, is Doug Ducey, a Republican, so he'd pick a GOP replacement in any case. But there was a Democratic governor -- Janet Napolitano -- in 2008 when McCain was the Republican presidential nominee. She would have had to pick a Republican to replace him.

I didn't like that idea at the time, but I see some merit in it now. The parties are very polarized. It seems wrong for a governor to override the voters' party preference when there's a vacancy. But only four states have such laws (Hawaii, Wyoming, and Utah are the others), so Christie might get to make some mischief before he's finally out of the governor's mansion.

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