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A draft Codey for governor campaign emerges in central Jersey

codey041309_optBY TOM HESTER
NEW JERSEY NEWSROOM

Senate President Richard J. Codey (D-Essex) may not want to be the Democratic Party's candidate for governor this year, but political consultant Jim Devine thinks the former governor should be the the standard bearer instead of Gov. Jon Corzine.

Devine, who operates Rahway-based Devine Advertising Associates and has guided Democratic legislative campaigns in the past, has launched a draft Codey for governor campaign through the web site of his political action committee, the Central Jersey Democratic Leadership Committee.

Beneath a banner that urges, "Draft Codey,'' and a photo of the senator, Devine states, "As Senate president and governor, Richard Codey withstood the tests of character, integrity and leadership. He brought New Jersey together in a time of upheaval, fomented healing in the wake of scandal and brought stability to a chaotic financial situation. Codey's governorship was stunted by the political bosses who control our government through a system corrupted by money and a former Wall Street millionaire who grew bored in the United States Senate.''

But there is a big problem facing Devine's draft Codey effort. Codey wants nothing to do with it. With Corzine facing strong competition early in the race from Republican frontrunner Chris Christie, Democratic leaders don't want to show any sign of infighting.

Codey's aides on Monday reiterated his support for Corzine and noted he called for the governor's re-election to a second term before a gathering of Essex County Democrats on April 1. "His position is that as the Democratic party we have a candidate,'' said Jon Boguchwal, Codey's chief of staff. "This has nothing to do with us.''

Devine said he did not approach Codey about a draft movement nor has he spoken to other party leaders.  He said he does not believe Codey wants to break ranks with the party and describes his effort to draft hie as a grassroots movement that if successful would force Corzine to drop his candidacy and clear the way for the party to replace him with Codey.

"The fact of the matter is we believe Senator Codey did a great job when governor and is more representative of Democratic values,'' Devine said. "We  believe he is stronger and more articulate leaders. He is a reformer and a straight shooter.''

Devine concedes he no longer has a lot of friends among the party's leadership and Democrats who were aware his web site is online, maintained the draft movement is a ploy to raise money for his political action committee. The site, Codey.org, asks for contributions via credit card but does not provide a mailing address.

The Central Jersey Democratic Leadership Committee PAC is registered with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission but has not filed a report since the 2005 legislative election when it had $22,822 in its treasury. Devine said the PAC has not raised money in the past three years. He said if it receives contributions and the draft Codey effort should fail, any contributions would go toward helping Democratic candidates in need of financial support.

 

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