New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg was the last World War II veteran to serve in Congress. He was also the last liberal lion.
After Senator Lautenberg’s passing yesterday, his seat is likely open for a Special Election this coming November. Meanwhile, Republican Governor Chris Christie has the chance — and burden — of appointing Lautenberg’s replacement.
Should Governor Christie appoint a Republican, like most GOP governors would, he may risk losing some crossover support he currently enjoys among Democrat voters. By appointing a Democrat, Christie would further estrange himself from the warm embrace of his own base.
Politicker NJ has floated a long bipartisan list of serious possibilities for Christie to choose from, including his own Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno and even Democrat Cory Booker, the Newark mayor who had already declared his intention to run for the seat.
By appointing a Democrat like Booker, Christie costs the GOP the position of being one seat closer to a Senate majority for 2014. If Republicans can only pull off a tie or worse next November, they would surely point blame at Christie for the loss. But shipping Mayor Booker to Washington would also rid Christie of his most serious potential challenger for his own job.
This will be a race to watch very closely!