Conservatives are taking to their blogs and social media to ask New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to pick Princeton Professor Robert P. George for the Senate seat left open with the Monday passing of Sen. Frank Lautenberg.
Conservative author and policy scholar Steven F. Hayward got the ball rolling, according to First Things deputy editor Matthew Schmitz, with a Monday afternoon tweet: "Memo to Gov. Christie on Senate vacancy. Two words: Robbie. George."
Schmitz started the hashtag, #appointRPG, and other conservatives began weighing in on Twitter.
- Writer and editor Yair Rosenberg: "@GovChristie, make it happen, #appointRPG"
- Americans United for Life President Charmaine Yoest: "Let's get it going"
- Pro-life author and blogger Jill Stanek: "Awesome idea! Pls RT!"
- Freelance writer Joseph Sunde: "Me likey."
- Heritage Foundation policy analyst Andrew Walker: "My brain is melting at the thought of Robert P. George in the US Senate."
By Tuesday, Hayward and John Londregan, a political science professor and one of George's colleagues at Princeton, had blog posts making the case for George's appointment.
"... if Gov. Chris Christie really wants to send an interesting message that he isn't about politics as usual," Hayward advized, "he'd think about sending Robbie to Washington for a few months as New Jersey's interim senator, rather than some legacy appointment like Tom Kean Jr. (Look, Cory Booker – a good man – is going to win the special election anyway, so come on big guy, have some fun with this appointment.)"
"New Jersey deserves a senator who has the courage to act on his principles and the eloquence to defend and explain them," Londregan argued at National Review Online. "For too long we have accepted the notion that representative politics means having mediocre people representing us. But the median voter doesn't want or deserve to have herself as her senator any more than she would want herself as her brain surgeon or as the architect of the bridge she commutes across every day. Like the rest of us the median voter wants the best person for each job, and in the case of the Senate this means someone whose words and deeds will defend her ideals and reach for her aspirations, not someone whose vices mawkishly imitate her foibles."
George holds the prestigious McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton, a position first held by Woodrow Wilson, and is visiting professor at Harvard Law School. He also helped establish and directs the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton, served on the President's Council on Bioethics, was a presidential appointee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and serves as a senior editorial advisor for The Christian Post.
George has been active in many recent policy debates. He co-authored a book defending traditional marriage, What is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense, and a book presenting a case against legalized abortion, Embryo: A Defense of Human Life. In a 2009 New York Times profile he was called "The Conservative-Christian Big Thinker."
Christie announced Tuesday that there will be a special election in October to fill the Senate vacancy, so whoever is appointed will only serve until then.
Many conservatives and Republicans were upset at Christie's announcement. Under New Jersey law, Christie had much leeway in deciding how to fill the vacancy, so he could have filled the vacancy with a Republican until November, 2014.
By setting the election for October, Christie also demonstrated a preference for his own political needs above that of his party. If the election were held in November on the same day as his own attempt at reelection, Democratic turnout would have increased, thus hurting his own chances at maintaining the governorship.
Christie will choose soon, he said, someone to fill the vacancy until October. With that pick, he will have an opportunity to mend his relations with fellow Republicans by picking a strong conservative, like Robert P. George.