November 22, 2004


Politics NJ (STEVE KORNACKI, 11/19/04,

These nascent days of Richard J. Codey’s gubernatorial administration fall during a rare moment in which the press corps and its prime subject are essentially working together. The media is hungry to tell the public the story of this new governor, heretofore elected by only one-fortieth of the state’s voters, and that works just fine for Codey, since he’s just as eager to expand his reputation beyond the Essex County-based 27th Legislative District.

The urgency for Codey is brought on by the ambitious, well-known and mega-rich political reality otherwise known as U.S. Senator Jon Corzine. Corzine wants to be governor, and if he can make enough noise (and if his backers can throw enough elbows) to nudge Codey aside, the Democratic nomination -- and quite likely the keys to Drumthwacket -- will be his.

But if Codey can transform his new status as the state’s top dog into muscular poll numbers by, say, early next year, the playing field could shift -- decisively -- in the acting governor’s favor.

How it ends, no matter what anyone says, is unknown, but the opening scenes of this unlikely political drama played out this week, beginning on a chilly Sunday night in West Orange when Codey placed his hand on a Bible and swore to uphold the state’s constitution.

It wasn’t technically a necessary move. Codey, the state Senate’s president, wasn’t slated to take over as governor until 11:59 P.M. the following night, when James E. McGreevey’s resignation took effect. But an early evening ceremony on a slow news day is sure to score more prominent press coverage than a midnight inauguration on a Monday.

What was most important to the new governor, besides making sure New Jerseyans knew he had formally staked his claim to power, were the video images and still pictures shot in that living room that night.

Consider the stagecraft. There was Codey, his wife by his side, his two sons standing behind him, being administered the oath of office in his living room by a Catholic priest, all while the state’s top Republican, Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance, looked on.

Home, family, faith, bipartisanship. Given all that New Jersey has just been through, probably the right kinds of visual messages to be sending.

Man, this is going to be as long and drawn out as a presidential race--Doug Forrester, victim of the Toricelli/Lautenberg swap, has an ad up already.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 22, 2004 4:12 PM

"drawn out as a presidential race"

Which reminds me. Will the Scott Peterson murder trial end in my lifetime. I'm ready for some real news like Geraldo opening Capone's vault or OJ finding Nicole's murderer. (the other OJ)

Posted by: h-man at November 22, 2004 4:53 PM

I get a Forrester piece in the mail almost every day. He's so obviously the choice of the Witless crowd as to be completely disgusting.

Posted by: Bart at November 22, 2004 6:22 PM

The really interesting part of this is that while the Democrats love folks like Crozine, Soros or Warren Buffet to act as the party's personal ATMs, the "class warfare" gene has become so wired into their DNA that it's going to be hard to paint Corzine as the more sympathetic of the two figures to their core voters, who have a near-Palovian gag reflex to anyone with a lot of disposable income.

The normal way the party would handle this would be to simply ignore the poorer guy and stuff him under the rug until the primary season is over. But with Codey already serving as governor and able to make his own news without the help of massive campaign advertising, it forces Corzine to make a case over the next few months that Codey is either unelectable next November or inompetent in running New Jersey. Only if the latter turns out to be true do the Democrats avoid some ruffled feathers during the primary season.

Posted by: John at November 22, 2004 11:02 PM

At some point, Corzine is going to have to comply with Federal Election law concerning disclosure of his prior tax returns, which he argued were privileged due to a confidentiality agreement he signed with Goldman, Sachs.

With a GOP US Attorney for NJ, that ain't gonna fly.

Posted by: Bart at November 23, 2004 10:31 AM