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A federal judge on Wednesday refused to order a special election to replace New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey, who announced last month that he is gay and would step down Nov. 15. U.S. District Judge Garrett E. Brown Jr. dismissed a lawsuit that claimed McGreevey had effectively created a vacancy by announcing his resignation. Brown said there is no vacancy to fill because McGreevey has not left office. “He clearly intends to hold office until Nov. 15, 2004. The requirement of holding a special election does not arise. The rights of registered voters are not being violated,” Brown said. The lawsuit, filed by two Princeton lawyers, argued that by staying in office until there is not time enough to schedule a special election, McGreevey is depriving voters of their constitutional rights. McGreevey called a news conference last month to say he had an extramarital affair with a man and would resign. Under state law, if McGreevey had left office before Sept. 3, a special election would have been called for Nov. 2. But now, Senate President Richard J. Codey, a fellow Democrat, will succeed McGreevey as acting governor until the term expires in January 2006. The state has no lieutenant governor. In his ruling Brown detailed definitions of the word “vacancy,” using several types of dictionaries. Under every definition he could find, the state has no vacancy because McGreevey has not left office, Brown said. Bruce Afran, one of the lawyers who filed the lawsuit, said he would argue again in state Supreme Court that the state is violating the public’s right to vote for a replacement. “I am quite shocked that a U.S. district court judge decides a dictionary is more important than the United States Constitution,” Afran said afterward. Assistant Attorney General Stefanie Brand said Brown’s decision appeared to be final. “I thought it was clear and logical,” Brand said. McGreevey has not changed his plan to resign and was pleased by the ruling, spokesman Micah Rasmussen said. “We appreciate the judge’s thoughtful decision,” Rasmussen said. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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