Gov. Christie Names Chief of Staff as Next State Attorney General

By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent

Gov. Chris Christie has tapped his chief of staff Kevin O’Dowd to be the next state attorney general.

The 41-year-old Princeton resident is yet another prosecutor who worked under Christie in the U.S. Attorney’s office.

“I’ve known Kevin both as a friend and as a professional over the last decade, and I’m really grateful he’s willing to continue his government service,” Christie said.

O’Dowd is married to Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd.

If confirmed, he would succeed Acting Attorney General John Hoffman.

“I also want to thank the governor for his continuing confidence in me and for offering me this nomination which I accepted today to serve as the next attorney general for the state of New Jersey,” O’Dowd said.

The top Democrat at the Statehouse immediately approved.

“I think Kevin is an outstanding choice. I think he has a great deal of respect from the legislature,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney.

To succeed O’Dowd as his chief of staff, Christie named Regina Egea, currently director of his authorities unit.

“I want to thank everyone who has helped, especially Kevin. Big shoes to fill but I look forward to the opportunity,” Egea said.

In a wide-ranging news conference that followed, Christie was asked whether he is waffling on the DREAM Act.

He had said he supported in-state tuition for the children of undocumented immigrants but now says the bill under consideration is too generous.

It shouldn’t offer scholarship aid to non-citizens on top of cheaper tuition and shouldn’t apply to out of state residents who come to New Jersey to attend private or parochial schools here.

That just makes us a magnet for immigrants, he said.

“In all the arguments I’ve ever heard, becoming a magnet was never one of them. It was students who have been here for 10, 12, 14 years who’ve been paying an average of $17,000 per pupil per year to educate them. That we shouldn’t then make it more difficult for those students to go to college when they were brought here by their parents or other circumstances which have no fault of their own. I absolutely support that and if they sent me a clean tuition equality bill I’d sign it,” Christie said.

Sweeney accused Christie of a bait and switch.

“When you’re running for governor, you say you support it. And the only bill out there is my bill. Then after you get elected you say, that’s not the case. That’s wrong,” Sweeney said.

Christie was also asked to comment on Republican Assemblyman Chris Brown’s off-script radio comment last week that Christie had a deal with Democratic power broker George Norcross and that’s why Brown’s running mate John Amodeo and other South Jersey Republicans lost their elections.

“One, I had no deal with George Norcross on politics. And two if I had a deal, I sure as hell wouldn’t tell Chris Brown. I did not have one and fact of matter is what Mr. Brown and Mr. Amodeo should look is why they still have $175,000 in their campaign account in a race they lost by 40 votes. Maybe they should look at that,” Christie said.

And there was plenty more.