Chris Christie Picks AG Jeff Chiesa to Represent NJ in Immigration Fight

Chris Christie sends AG Jeff Chiesa to Washington until the N.J. Senate special election.

(Mel Evans/AP)

Chiesa adds to the long list of Republicans the bipartisan “gang of eight” will have to convince to get its immigration bill across the finish line.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who had to carefully weigh his options on how to proceed in the wake of five-term Sen. Frank Lautenberg's death, chose a temporary replacement to go to Washington Thursday.

Christie announced he would appoint current New Jersey Attorney General Jeff Chiesa, a Republican, to fill the seat until October when a special election can be held.

"I said on Monday I was going to select the person I thought was going to be the best person to represent New Jersey," Christie said during a press conference announcing the appointment. "It became clear to me that Attorney General Chiesa would be the best person to represent the people of New Jersey."

Chiesa said it was an honor to be asked, and told reporters he was surprised he was selected. He also announced that he would not run for the seat in October when the special election is held.

[READ: New Jersey's Christie Opts for Special Election to Replace Lautenberg]

Chiesa will likely be present for some tough votes in the Senate despite his short tenure.

His introduction to the upper chamber will come as the Senate deliberates landmark immigration legislation, a farm bill and budget battles. Chiesa will be added to a long list of Republicans the bipartisan "gang of eight" will have to convince to get its immigration bill across the finish line. Already, Chiesa has told reporters he needs to see stronger border security provisions before he can get behind the bill.

 

The GOP appointment may quell Christie's critics at least for awhile.

Christie irked some in the state when he announced he would hold a general election on Oct. 16, less than a month before an already-scheduled election, at a cost of $24 million to New Jersey tax payers.

[OPINION: Lautenberg Senate Vacancy Can Help or Hurt Christie]

Christie said he had concerns that waiting to hold the election until November would tie his administration up in legal battles.

While Chiesa's busy in Washington, candidates back in New Jersey will be revving up their campaign engines for the election.

Democratic Newark Mayor Cory Booker as well as Reps. Rank Pallone and Rush Holt have hinted that they are gearing up for the August Democratic primary. And former Bogota, N.J., Mayor Steve Lonegan, the only Republican in the race so far, is hoping he can ride the popular coattails of Christie to claim the Senate seat, which has not been held by a Republican since 1982.

Whoever wins the election in October will have to run again in 2014 to keep the seat.

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