The Washington Times - June 5, 2013, 10:24AM

The Democrat running against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in November said Wednesday that the Republican’s decision to hold a special U.S. Senate election just weeks before their Election Day showdown smacks of politics.

State Sen. Mary Buono, who won her party’s gubernatorial primary on Tuesday and trails the incumbent by 30 points in the polls, said Mr. Christie set the Oct. 16 special election to avoid having to be on the same ballot as some of the Democrats who are considering running for the Senate seat that opened up after the passing of Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

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“We see the two Chris Christies,” Ms. Buono said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown.” “There is the Chris Christie that appears like he is a straight-talking governor, that politics does not enter into any of his decision-making. Then you see a decision like this, which reeks of politics. He doesn’t want to see [Newark Mayor] Corey Booker on the ballot with him. He does not want to see [U.S. Rep.] Frank Pallone or any other Democrat on the ballot to run against him”

Ms. Buono is not well known in the state and has started running ads aimed at raising her name-recognition. She also is hammering Mr. Christie’s record, arguing that his economic policies have failed, leaving the state with high unemployment and high property taxes.

Mr. Christie, a likely 2016 presidential contender, announced his decision Tuesday at a press conference in Trenton, where he pushed back against the critics who questioned why he would saddle taxpayers with the cost — estimated to be $24 million — of the special election when he could have waited to have voters decide who gets the seat three weeks later in the Nov. 5 election.

“I don’t know what the cost is and I quite frankly don’t care,” Mr. Christie told reporters. “I don’t think you put a price tag on what it’s worth to have an elected person in the U.S. Senate.”