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Christie names New Jersey attorney general to be interim senator

June 06, 2013|By Michael A. Memoli
  • New Jersey Attorney General, and newly-appointed temporary Senator Jeffrey Chiesa talks during a news conference in Newark, N.J.
New Jersey Attorney General, and newly-appointed temporary Senator Jeffrey… (Julio Cortez / Associated…)

WASHINGTON -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday said he would appoint state Atty. Gen. Jeffrey Chiesa, a fellow Republican, as the state’s interim U.S. senator, replacing Democrat Frank Lautenberg, who died Monday.

Christie said Chiesa would not be a candidate in the special election this fall to serve the remainder of Lautenberg’s unexpired term, which runs through January of 2015.

Chiesa has long ties to the Republican governor, having served as his chief counsel when Christie became governor in January 2010 and then as attorney general, an appointed position, since January 2012. He also worked for Christie for seven years when Christie served as the U.S. attorney for New Jersey.

Christie announced his decision at a news conference in Trenton, N.J., at the exact moment Lautenberg's casket was arriving at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Lautenberg will lie in repose in the well of the Senate chamber Thursday afternoon.

Christie said Chiesa made the decision not to run in the special election. The governor said he had been thinking about a replacement for Lautenberg even before the senator's passing this week, given his poor health in recent years.

The appointment will be effective June 10, Christie said. The Senate has no scheduled votes until then.

When Chiesa joins the Senate it will change the balance of power to give Republicans 46 seats. Democrats will hold 52 seats; two independent senators also caucus with the party.

New Jersey will hold a special primary election to fill the Senate seat on Aug. 13, and a special general election on Oct. 16. Christie has been criticized for his decision to call the Senate election separate from the regularly scheduled gubernatorial election in November.

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michael.memoli@latimes.com

Twitter: @mikememoli

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