TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday named his former chief counsel to be the state's new attorney general, New Jersey's third top law enforcement official this year.

Christie announced that Chris Porrino, who left the Republican governor's administration last July as chief counsel for a job in the private sector, will succeed acting Attorney General Robert Lougy.

"It is incredibly gratifying for me on a personal level to welcome Chris back to the administration," Christie said. "I've missed him during his absence. He's continued to serve as an important adviser to me."

Porrino's appointment is subject to the advice and consent of the Democrat-led state Senate. Porrino, 48, said his political registration is unaffiliated.

"My initial reaction and reaction still is to be humbled beyond words and honored to have the chance to be considered by the Senate," Porrino said Thursday.

Porrino left government to return to private practice at Lowenstein Sandler after a year and a half as Christie's top attorney.

Christie announced last month he was appointing Lougy as a superior court judge. Porrino said he hopes to get started as acting attorney general as soon as next week.

Lougy stepped in for former acting Attorney General John Hoffman, who announced his departure in February to become the top lawyer for Rutgers.

Christie has called Porrino's service "invaluable" and said he delivered results for New Jersey residents as the director of the Division of Law from 2012 to 2014.

Porrino settled a case with a Harvey Cedars couple who did not want to cede their land to the state for dune construction. Christie says the case paved the way for the state to protect its coastline.