NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Dick Codey stepped up the plate when New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey resigned amid a sex scandal and publicly revealed he was gay.
He also stepped in when Gov. Jon Corzine was injured in a car crash on the Garden State Parkway.
He has never been shy about speaking his mind, as he does in his book “Me, Governor?: My Life in the Rough-and-Tumble World of New Jersey Politics” (which is in its third printing).
Codey stopped by WCBS Newsradio 880’s studios in Manhattan and spoke at length with afternoon drive anchor Wayne Cabot, about corruption in the Garden State, the possibility of Gov. Chris Christie and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg running for President and much more.
LISTEN: Cabot With Codey
(Download the full interview HERE)
“He is you, might say the ‘accidental governor.’ You don’t mind me calling that do you governor?” asked Cabot.
“I’ve been called worse things, Wayne,” answered Codey.
“So Dick Codey, does New Jersey still need saving?” asked Cabot.
“Right now, we need money, just like the feds,” said Codey.
Cabot asked him if it was ‘mission accomplished’ when he left the governor’s office or was their more he’d like to do.
“I think there is a heck of a lot more to do, not only certainly here in the state, but on the federal level. I think one of the things that I really prided myself on Wayne, when I was in office, that I was never partisanship. We got along with each other, Republicans and Democrats, and we did the job and it was as simple as that and people don’t care who is a Democrat and who is a Republican. Just do the right thing, and now especially in New Jersey unfortunately we have political power brokers and I’ll be honest, they’re in my party who have way to much influence in the legislative process and I think that’s to the detriment of the people of the state of New Jersey.”
Codey himself was toppled as State Senate President by one those guys.
“Yes, but the press, who is the guardian for the public should be outraged by what’s going on,” said Codey. “When you have people who aren’t elected controlling certain aspects of the legislature, that’s not good. This is not the era of Boss Tweed. This is 2011.”
“But it’s all legal,” replied Cabot.
“It may be legal, but it’s not ethical,” said Codey.
Right now, Codey’s goal is to get re-elected as State Senator for the 27th Legislative District.
But he is quite proud of what he has done already – including passing a restaurant smoking ban, getting the New Meadowlands Stadium built with no direct taxpayer funding, and converting the Garden State Parkway to one-way tolling.
He spoke about when Corzine first ran for governor and how he thinks New Jersey’s Democratic party bosses made a mistake when they didn’t keep him in the Senate and keep Codey in the governor’s office in Trenton.
“My anger or disappointment was with my party and not necessarily him. What the party should have said to him was, ‘Listen Jon, it looks like this guy is really catching on. The McGreevey scandal which you thought would be a disaster for the party, seems to be in the rear view mirror, thanks to Codey. So why don’t you just stay in Washington and let him stay in Trenton?’ But they had gotten used to Gov. Corzine giving all their party organizations huge amounts of money from his personal fortune and they wanted to have another payday, and that overrode good common sense and good government,” said Codey.
Cabot asked him about the possibility of a Bloomberg Presidential run in 2012 and Codey said, “I don’t think he could ever win as President because I don’t think he could ever win a Republican primary, and there’s no way anyone could ever win the Presidency as an independent.”
Codey discussed how, at first, he though Bloomberg was very arrogant and then got to know him better.
But, despite his low opinion of him, he still overrided his sports authority chief and allowed Bloomberg to land his helicopter in the Meadowlands for events and a dinner that followed.
On Gov. Chris Chris Christie, Codey said he doesn’t like his style.
He also spoke about Stephen Sweeney, who replaced him as State Senate President, saying, he “is still finding his way and gets hampered by the fact that there is a political boss in South Jersey, where he lives, who tries to dominate what the legislature does.”
Codey was asked to give a rising star or two in New Jersey politics.
He listed one of his own Assemblymen – John McKeon, and Phil Murphy, the current U.S. Ambassador to Germany who used to head fundraising for the Democratic National Committee.
Cabot tried to get Codey to talk about his future political plans and aspirations, and Codey responded, “I’m content and happy, but I didn’t say what I’d be doing in the future.”
To that, Cabot joked, “This is New Jersey. How much will it cost? I’ve got my wallet open.”