Lawmakers in one northern New Jersey county have refused to allocate the roughly $850,000 needed to fund the state's special election for U.S. Senate in mid-October.
Critics have blasted Gov. Chris Christie's decision to hold the special election just three weeks before his own gubernatorial election, saying the cost of holding two elections within weeks of each other puts an unnecessary burden on taxpayers.
The Union County Board of Freeholders cited that argument when they made their decision Thursday night, claiming the contest would create a "financial hardship" for the county. Board members also said they had not received assurances from state officials that the county would be reimbursed for at least some of the special election's costs.
The Star-Ledger reports that the freeholders believe their refusal to fund the election is the first such instance in the state, and they hope it will spur other county freeholder boards to take similar action.
The all-Democratic board also passed a resolution Thursday that asks the Republican governor to reconsider his decision to schedule the October election. They said the move was not politically motivated but was made in the interest of fiscal prudence.
"This is bad governing," freeholder Mohamed Jalloh said. "If this was not the governor's decision ... regardless of party affiliation, he would say this is irresponsible. And I'm sure he would phrase that in lot stronger terms than I would. I think this hurts all of New Jersey."
A three-judge appellate panel this week rejected a lawsuit challenging Christie's decision to schedule the special election when he did, saying he was authorized to do so. But the state Supreme Court has agreed to consider an expedited review of Christie's decision.