Rumson resident James R. Zazzali, Associate Justice on the state Supreme Court, is Gov. Jon Corzine’s choice to succeed Chief Justice Deborah Poritz upon her expected retirement in the fall, according to a story by scoop machine Josh Margolin in today’s Star-Ledger.

“By promoting Zazzali, Corzine would be all but assured of a big confirmation victory in the state Senate, while elevating a judge who is a popular Democrat with strong bipartisan ties,” Margolin reports.

Zazzali is unlikely to hold the job for long, if he gets it. The state Constitution requires that justices retire at age 70, a milestone Zazzali will reach in a year. Poritz turns 70 in October.

Zazzali is a former state Attorney General. A Democrat, he was appointed to the high court by by then-Gov. Christie Whitman, a Republican, in 2000.

His nomination is likely to be announced in July or August, the Ledger reports. The story also says that Corzine is “known for making critical decisions at the last minute (and) could still change his mind, but that is highly unlikely.”

The Ledger also reports that Corzine will likely stick with tradition and appoint a Republican to fill Zazzali’s associate spot to maintain partisan balance.