Washington (CNN) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie opted for a special election to fill a newly vacant Senate seat through 2014 instead of appointing a replacement through that time, saying the decision was about giving voters "a choice and a voice in the process" and was not driven by political self-interest.
While the Republican's decision for a special October ballot could help him avoid stronger Democratic turnout in his re-election bid a month later, it also opens him up to criticism from his own party that is on the short end of the balance of power in the Senate.
Christie explained his decision one day after the Garden State's senior senator, Frank Lautenberg, a liberal Democrat, died at 89 after an illness. Christie said he would name a placeholder as soon as possible to fill the seat until the October election.