If Chris Christie wins the 2009 gubernatorial election, he’ll become the first former U.S. Attorney from New Jersey to win public office since Garret Wall was elected to the United States Senate in 1835. Wall was an Assemblyman from Middletown when he was named federal prosecutor in 1828; he was elected Governor the following year but declined to serve.
Thorn Lord, who was U.S. Attorney from 1943 to 1945, was the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in 1960. He lost to the Republican incumbent, Clifford Case. (For extreme political junkies, Lord’s law partner was Richard Hughes, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney who was elected Governor in 1961.)
Robert DelTufo, the U.S. Attorney from 1977 to 1980, sought the Democratic nomination for Governor in 1985. He finished fifth in a field of six primary candidates with 4% of the vote.
Two other ex-federal prosecutors mulled gubernatorial bids but eventually declined to run. Grover Richman, who was U.S. Attorney during the Truman administration, was set to be the Democratic organization candidate for Governor in 1961. His withdrawal following a heart attack set the stage for Hughes’ candidacy. Nixon-era U.S. Attorney Frederick Lacey was serving as a federal judge when he actively considered a challenge to Governor Brendan Byrne in 1977. He was prepared to run, but would not resign from the bench until certain key Republican organizations announced their endorsement of him. Those organizations would not endorse him until he entered the race.