Now that the drama surrounding the potential candidacy of Carl Lewis in New Jersey’s 8th Legislative District is presumed over, the race in New Jersey’s 27th Legislative District for the state Senate might pick up a healthy amount of headlines in the coming weeks.
State Senator Richard Codey (D-27) was one of the top GOP targets during the legislative redistricting talks earlier this year. His district moving forward will be slightly more competitive, but still favors him and Democrats. Despite their best efforts, Codey seems poised to be reelected this November and continue to be a thorn in the side of many Republicans.
If his “victory” in April when the map was announced was not enough good news for the former acting governor, a new poll places him at virtually at the top of a list of potential Democratic options to challenge Governor Chris Christie in 2013. Newark Mayor Cory Booker is up there with Codey. Additionally and more importantly for matters this year; a group of Republicans are coming out supporting Codey in his reelection campaign.
With the announcement of the dozen Republicans’ intentions of endorsing him, Codey responded by stating,
“I am honored and humbled that these Republican officials have enough faith in me to endorse my candidacy for re-election to the state Senate and share my belief that it does not matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican – to get results and deliver for your constituents we must work together.”
Before one scratches their head at these endorsements, Codey has a history with multiple individuals who are endorsing him. They are mayors and other elected officials, who go back years with Codey and feel comfortable with him. Moreover, it is not completely unheard of for one party official to endorse someone from the opposite party. A prime example on the national stage was Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT), who traditionally caucuses with Democrats and was its party’s nominee for vice president in 2000; but he was active at the GOP National Convention on the behalf of Senator John McCain (R-AZ) in his quest to become president in 2008.
The endorsers were stepping up on behalf of Codey and their admiration for him and not as a way to stifle the campaign of upstart and Republian and Tea Party candidate, William Eames. Eames was one of the few conservative or outsider candidates to shake the establishment in the state with his primary victory in June.
Included in the GOP endorsements was Hanover Mayor John Sheridan, who voiced this sentiment regarding Codey:
“His many years of experience will serve our district well. He is the best person for the position of State Senator of the 27th District and will do the best job for the residents of the Township of Hanover.”
Besides Mayor Sheridan, Chatham Township Committeeman Bill O’Connor; Dr. Pat Pelosi of East Hanover, a member of Gov. Chris Christie’s education transitition team; former Florham Park Councilman Jack Conaway; Florham Park Mayor Scott Eveland; Former Hanover Mayor Sal Iannacone; former East Hanover Mayor William Agnellino; former Caldwell Councilman Joe DeBellis; Essex Fells Mayor Ed Abbot; former Roseland Councilman Richard Reynolds; former Essex Fells Councilman Mike Cecere; and retired NFL lineman Tony “Goose” Siragusa have also come out in support of Codey.
Going further, Dr. Pelosi is not only high on Codey for the November elections; but potentially a bigger election down the road opposite Chris Christie. As Pelosi expressed,
“You always knew where Dick Codey stood. I thought I knew where the current governor stood. I was wrong. From that (state Senate) seat, we hope to return him to the governor’s seat.”
Pelosi, for the time being, is the only Republican on this list willing to endorse Codey beyond his current race for state Senate.
Eames was quick to try to lessen the impact of the dozen Republicans endorsing his Democratic opponent by stating,
“I think he is exercising smart politics in the way he’s conducting his campaign. Other folks I talk to say they’re interested in the economy, not endorsements. The state economy is heavily impacted by what the state legislature does. I just don’t comprehend lifelong legislators. I’m simply trying to do my best to help Dick Codey retire. He’s a nice, friendly man. I admire his work on mental health. But his votes are attached to every tax we have endured.”
Regarding the potential connection between the endorsements and Eames’ unfriendly relationship with the GOP establishment in the state, Eames expressed,
“I think originally there was trepidation and yes, the Republican Party was originally hesitant, but that’s the normal course of affairs when you see something new.”
These endorsements might not be a deal sealer, but could influence enough voters in NJ-27 to provide Codey with a comfortable margin of victory come November. Until then, Eames will fight to the final hour and Codey would be wise to not rest on his record.