PJ Media

UPDATE: Christie Picks Attorney General for Senate Placeholder

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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced NJ State Attorney General Jeff Chiesa as the replacement for late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) at an afternoon press conference.

PolitickerNJ.com reported on Wednesday night that Port Authority Chairman David Samson “could emerge as a placeholder candidate for the seat when Gov. Chris Christie names Lautenberg’s successor.” Sources also told PJ Media earlier today that Samson would be Christie’s pick.

Christie wound up choosing Chiesa, who he appointed chief counsel after running his transition team as executive director. Chiesa said he has been a registered Republican since 2000.

Christie said the two have not discussed any specific pieces of federal legislation but Chiesa commented on immigration reform during the press conference on Thursday.

“The first thing we have to do is make sure the borders are secure,” said Chiesa.

He said his “first concern” is border security based on his law enforcement background.

From 2002 – 2009, according to his official biography, Chiesa “worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of New Jersey, last serving as the Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney.” He also held positions including Chief of the Public Protection Unit and the Counsel to the U.S. Attorney.

As the Public Protection Unit Chief in the U.S. Attorney’s office, Chiesa “supervised a group of Assistant U.S. attorneys primarily responsible for the investigation and prosecution of criminal cases involving bank robbery, child pornography, human trafficking and identity theft.”

In January 2012, Christie appointed Chiesa as attorney general.

Christie said he has “great faith” and “confidence” in Chiesa who is “the best person for the job.”

Chiesa will serve as a placeholder until the special election in October. Christie said the cost of a special election should not “dissuade” the state from letting people decide their next senator.

Chiesa told reporters that he would not be a candidate in the election.

Rep. Rush Holt (D) has formally declared his Senate candidacy.

“The reason is simple. I believe I am the best candidate to continue the passionate advocacy for progressive values that Sen. Lautenberg exemplified,” said Holt in a message to supporters.

(UPDATED at 3:30 p.m. EST)