Paula Dow, the Garden State’s first female, African-American attorney general, is reportedly preparing to resign for a seat on the Essex County Superior Court as a judge, according to published reports and a rebuff about her impending departure at a Monday afternoon press conference in Newark.

Dow, 56, a Democrat, was one of the first appointees to the Chris Christie administration back in 2009. At a news conference during which Dow unveiled a new state initiative to combat prescription drug abuse, she declined to answer a reporter’s direct question about if reports of her upcoming exit as the state’s chief lawyer were true. “I love this job and, more importantly, am real proud of the work we have done,” she said.

For Dow, who has remained enormously popular with New Jerseyans despite the highs and lows of the tenure of the Christie administration, the possibility of a judgeship would make her one of the most powerful African-Americans in the state. She is a former county prosecutor and has served as key legal counsel or chief advisor on a number of high-profile cases across the state in the past several years.

“I think she would make an excellent judge,” said one longtime Essex County resident. “She really knows this community and the people.”