06/06/13 4:00 pm
Meet the running mates: Chris Christie and Steve Lonegan.
"Wait!" you say. "Gov. Christie set the special election in New Jersey for October 16, a Wednesday three weeks before the already-scheduled November 5 general election. They won't be running together, numbskull."
Sure, and if you believe that, I've got some land off Highway 9 in the swamps of Jersey I'd like to sell you.
The New Jersey Supreme Court has already demonstrated it gives not one whit about the wording of a statute, or the legislative history behind it. They demonstrated that most famously 11 years ago, when they overruled the clear lplain English of a law regarding ballot vacancies to put Frank Lautenberg on the ballot after Bob Torricelli threw up his hands and cried "No Mas!"
It's been a while since I played in New Jersey, so if any sharp New Jersey-based election lawyers think what I'm about to say is nuts, I'd love to hear from you.
But in the meantime, I'm betting that four things will happen this summer:
First, Angelo Genova (New Jersey Democrats' election lawyer of choice -- a fine man, and an even better attorney) will file suit on behalf of a New Jersey Democrat, claiming that the Governor's decision to hold a special primary election on August 13 (in the middle of summer vacation at the Jersey Shore) and a special general election on Wednesday, October 16 (just 20 days before the already-scheduled statewide general election) both serve to disenfranchise voters. Who schedules elections on WEDNESDAYS, for goodness' sake?
Second, New Jersey Republican lawyers -- including the new Attorney General (who hasn't been appointed by the Governor yet, let alone confirmed by the New Jersey Senate, which confirmation process itself could be the summer's finest entertainment) -- will respond, "Oh, posh. The language of the relevant statute makes clear the Governor was well within his legal authority to set the dates as he did."
Third, the New Jersey Supreme Court will listen to the arguments of both sides, and ultimately decide in favor of the Democrats, on the grounds that no matter WHAT the plain text of the law says, the clear INTENT of the law was to INCREASE voter choice, rather than restrict it, and the Governor's dates tend to restrict voter choice, and therefore the Governor's dates are tossed out, and a special general election is set for ... Tuesday, November 5 -- the same day the Governor stands for reelection.