Gov. Chris Christie today nominated an openly gay African-American Republican mayor to the state’s highest court.   Mayor Bruce Harris is 60.   Harris graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College, and with honors from Boston University Graduate School of Management. He earned a law degree from Yale. In addition to serving as mayor of Chatham, he most recently worked at the law firm of Greenberg Traurig and previously at Riker, Danzi, Scherer, Hyland and Perretti.

Steve Goldstein, the chief executive of Garden State Equality, a gay rights organization, said he was stunned when Christie called to tell him about the imminent nomination of Harris, 60, a graduate of Yale Law School.
“As I told the governor right then and there, you could have picked me up off the floor,” Goldstein said .

If Harris accepts this position on the state Supreme Court and be confirmed, he will have to resign his position as mayor. The Republican Committee will have 15 days to nominate candidates for acting mayor, and the Chatham Borough Council will have 30 days to select a candidate. The acting mayor will serve until November, when voters will select a mayor to fill the remainder of Harris’ term.

Harris began volunteering in municipal government 13 years ago, and was selected to fill a seat on the council vacated by Dick Plambeck when he was elected to mayor. Harris was re-elected to the council in 2005 and 2008, and was elected as mayor in November 2011 in his first mayoral campaign. He is believed to be the first openly gay, black Republican mayor in the country.  If confirmed, Harris will be the first openly gay and third black member of the state Supreme Court.