The Campaign Spot

Some Frank Talk About an Old Senator’s Health

Cheer up, Democrats! Don’t spend another moment thinking about the sudden retirement of Sen. Evan Bayh. Think about . . . oh, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, and how one more Democratic vote in the Senate relies on the continuing good health of an 86-year-old man who was hospitalized last night after a fall.

Lautenberg is in good spirits, and I’m glad to hear that. Of course, if ill health required him to step down, his replacement would be named by Republican governor Chris Christie, and the law authorizes the governor to call for a special election, in which case there is no schedule specified. Otherwise, the vacancy is filled at first or second succeeding general election, depending on when it occurs. In other words, Christie’s presumably Republican appointee would serve until November, be it this year or next.

If that seat were to open up, it would probably set off a free-for-all on both sides of the aisle, with Rep. Rob Andrews, Rep. Frank Pallone, and Newark mayor Cory Booker likely to be mentioned on the Democrat side and almost any Republican in the state aiming to be Christie’s interim pick.

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