N.J. AG to temporarily fill late senator's seat

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Jun 7, 2013

TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa will fill the late Frank Lautenberg's U.S. Senate seat.

Christie made the announcement Thursday afternoon.

Lautenberg, 89, died Monday from complications related to viral pneumonia. A Democrat, he first served in the Senate from 1982 to 2001; after a brief retirement, he was re-elected and served from 2003 until his death.

Chiesa will take office Monday, temporarily filling the late senator's seat until a special election is held in October.

Christie called Chiesa an "extraordinary public servant."

"I said on Monday that I was going to select the person who I thought would be the best person to represent New Jersey between now and Oct. 16, when all New Jerseyans gets an opportunity to elect the person to succeed the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg," the Republican governor said during a press conference. "During the last few days as I've gotten to deliberate on this decision, it became clear to me that Attorney General Chiesa would be the best person to represent the people of the state of New Jersey in the United States Senate."

He continued, "I want to thank Jeff and his family for their willingness to once again step in and serve the public of the state of New Jersey."

Chiesa, a registered Republican, called the appointment "an incredible honor."

"The governor has given me some extraordinary chances to serve in public life, none of them that I expected, this probably the least of all, but to have this chance to continue to serve in public life is a wonderful opportunity for anybody," he said during Thursday's press conference.

"I'll use my best judgment and the skill that I have to conduct myself in the way that will make -- I hope that will make everybody in New Jersey proud, and to do everything I can to advance the interests of the people that live here as I've tried to do in all the positions that I've had the honor to have."

Chiesa has never held or run for public office.

He was nominated by Christie to be attorney general in December 2011, replacing former Attorney General Paula Dow.

He previously served as chief counsel to Christie.

Prior to that, he was executive director of the governor's transition team. He also was a partner at the law firm of Wolf & Samson in their litigation group.

Before that, he worked in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey from 2002 to 2009. He also served as counsel to the U.S. Attorney and as chief of the Public Protection Unit.

Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney's Office, Chiesa was a partner at the firm of Dughi & Hewit, where he litigated civil matters, including the representation of medical professionals and hospitals.

Christie said he would appoint a new attorney general Monday.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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