TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie tapped state Attorney General Jeff Chiesa as New Jersey’s next U.S. senator.
Chiesa, 47, will serve in the U.S. Senate until residents elect someone to replace him during the Oct. 16 special election. Chiesa has served as New Jersey’s Attorney General under Christie since January 2012.
“It became clear to me that Attorney General Chiesa was the best decision,” Christie said.
“Now, all the mystery is out of it,” he added.
Christie announced earlier this week that a special election will be held on Oct. 16 following an Aug. 13 primary. Chiesa is filling the seat left vacant by the death of former Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died Monday at age 89.
“I’ve known him since he was a brand new lawyer 22 years ago,” said Christie, speaking of his long-lasting relationship with the state’s attorney general. “There’s very few people in my life that I know better than Jeff.”
Christie said Chiesa will not be a candidate for the Senate in the upcoming special election. He asked Chiesa after offering the position whether he would run for it later down the road and Chiesa responded that he wouldn’t, Christie said.
“It was unexpected for sure,” Chiesa told reporters, referring to the governor’s decision to select him to fill the vacancy.
“This is an incredible honor for my family and I, the governor has given me some extraordinary chances to serve in public life,” he said. “To have this chance to continue to serve in public life is a wonderful opportunity for anybody. I’ll use my best judgment and the skill that I have to conduct myself in a way that I hope will make everybody in New Jersey proud and to do everything I can to advance the interest of the people who live here.”
The governor made the decision to call on Chiesa Monday evening.
“I knew this day might come. Senator Lautenberg had been ill. I didn’t just start thinking about this Monday,” Christie said. “By Monday evening I was pretty certain about what I wanted to do.”
The governor told reporters Chiesa told him via text message that he would take the position a day after Christie offered it to him.
Chiesa, a registered Republican, does not have a background in elected politics.
“Jeff brings a great approach to solving problems,” Christie said. “I doubt you’ll find anyone who has anything bad to say about Jeff Cheisa.”
Christie’s appointment will become effective June 10.