NJ Gov.-elect Christie names top office staff

AP News
Posted: Dec 04, 2009 9:35 AM

Gov.-elect Chris Christie has named four of his top advisers, including three with legal backgrounds.

Richard Bagger, 49, a Pfizer executive and former state legislator, was chosen as chief of staff _ considered the most powerful position in the governor's inner office.

Christie, a Republican, defeated Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine in the Nov. 3 election. Christie takes office in January.

Bagger, a senior vice president for worldwide public affairs at Pfizer, served in the Senate from 2002 to 2003 and in the Assembly from 1993 to 2002. He chaired the Assembly Appropriations Committee from 1998 to 2002. He has also served as the mayor of Westfield.

"Rich Bagger brings a wealth of outside experience, knowledge, respect from both sides of the aisle, and a shared belief that we must run Trenton differently if we're going to get results," Christie said in a statement.

Before Pfizer, Bagger was an in-house attorney for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Jersey and has also worked at the law firm of McCarter and English.

Two deputy chiefs of staff were also named Thursday: Bill Stepien, 31, who was Christie's campaign manager, and Kevin O'Dowd, 37, an assistant U.S. attorney who worked under Christie when the governor-elect was U.S. Attorney.

Jeff Chiesa, 44, also a former assistant U.S. attorney who recently moved into private practice, was named chief counsel to the governor.