If Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey either steps down or is removed from office, Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, will get the chance to choose his replacement.
“If a vacancy shall happen in the representation of this State in the United States senate, it shall be filled at the general election next succeeding the happening thereof, unless such vacancy shall happen within 70 days next preceding such election, in which case it shall be filled by election at the second succeeding general election, unless the governor of this State shall deem it advisable to call a special election therefor, which he is authorized hereby to do,” New Jersey law reads. “The governor of this State may make a temporary appointment of a senator of the United States from this State whenever a vacancy shall occur by reason of any cause other than the expiration of the term; and such appointee shall serve as such senator until a special election or general election shall have been held pursuant to law and the Board of State Canvassers can deliver to his successor a certificate of election.”
One Republican suggested to me that should Senator Menendez step down, Christie would likely appoint Joe Kyrillos, the state senator from New Jersey. Kyrillos ran against Menendez in the November election, but ultimately lost the election by sizable margin.
“Senator Joseph M. Kyrillos, Jr. began serving New Jersey's 13th Legislative District in 1988 when he was elected to the General Assembly. After spending two terms in the Assembly he was elected to the Senate where he has served since 1993,” the state senator’s official biography reads.
“Majority Conference Leader from 1997-2002, Senator Kyrillos sits on both the Senate Economic Growth and Judiciary committees. He was the Chairman of the New Jersey Republican State Committee from 2001-2004 and New Jersey Chairman for Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential campaign. In 2009, he served as the Chairman of Governor Chris Christie's successful campaign and was a member of his transition committee serving as the liaison to all transition sub-committees.”
He is an ally of Christie’s in the state senate.
Governor Christie’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Menendez faces shocking allegations of accepting benefits from a campaign donor and having sexual intercourse with underage prostitute abroad. He has repaid the campaign donor, who is now under an FBI investigation, tens of thousands of dollars for flights on the donor’s private plane.
“U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez this month wrote a $58,500 check to a company owned by a South Florida eye doctor and political fundraiser to reimburse him for two personal flights to the Dominican Republic that the New Jersey Democrat did not report on his Senate financial disclosure form, his office confirmed to NBC News Wednesday night,” NBC reports.
“The disclosure came as law enforcement sources confirmed that FBI agents searched the West Palm Beach, Florida, offices of the doctor, Salomon Melgen, Tuesday night as part of an investigation that includes agents from the Department of Health and Human Services.
“Melgen is a major Democratic political donor and fundraiser who together with family has contributed more than $200,000 to Democratic candidates, including $33,000 to Menendez.”
Menendez has avoided questions regarding whether he engaged in sexual conduct with prostitutes.
And has given no indication that he plans to voluntarily step down or resign from his perch in the Senate.