Christie Struggles to Find a Senate Contender

by Robert Costa

The biggest names in New Jersey Republican politics are declining to run for the Senate seat recently vacated by the late Frank Lautenberg.

Earlier this week, Governor Chris Christie set the primary for August and the general election for October. But prominent elected officials are wary of jumping into an unpredictable, two-month campaign.

Over on the home page, I report on the problems this is causing in Trenton:

Many of the Republicans who have been mentioned as possible candidates, such as state senator Tom Kean Jr., lieutenant governor Kim Guadagno, and state senator Joe Kyrillos, are privately telling their friends that they probably won’t run.

On Wednesday, state senator Michael Doherty, a prominent backer of Ron Paul’s presidential campaign, decided to sit out the race, owing to the compressed calendar. State senator Kevin O’Toole, a popular New Jersey lawmaker, did the same. “If the special election was in November 2014, instead of October, it’d be a different situation,” O’Toole says in a phone interview. “That said, I fully support the governor.”

“If you’re not ready to launch a statewide campaign, it’s a difficult proposition,” explains John Bennett, a former New Jersey state senator and a member of the state Republican committee. “Right now, the cost factor is a deterrent for a lot of people.”

So is the filing deadline, which comes less than a week after Christie’s announcement. If you want to run, you have to have your petition, along with 1,000 signatures, submitted by June 10.

Kean Jr.KyrillosDohertyO’Toole – the list of Republicans who are not running seems to grow by the hour. This development only helps Steve Lonegan.

Christie is also expected to soon announce his interim appointment to the U.S. Senate. But with so many Republicans deciding against a run, the likeliehood of the appointed senator running for the seat is dimming.