NJ state senator, former acting governor Richard Codey announces retirement plans

Anthony Johnson Image
Tuesday, August 15, 2023
NJ state senator Richard Codey announces retirement plans
Former acting governor and current state senator Richard Codey announced he is stepping away from politics. Anthony Johnson has more on Codey's career.

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- Fifty years after first stepping into politics, 76-year-old former New Jersey acting governor and current state Senator Richard Codey, says he's ready to retire.

For Codey, it's time to trade all the trips to Trenton for more time as a husband, father and grandpa.

"To all of New Jersey, I'm extremely thankful," Codey said.

With that statement, Senator Codey closed the circle of 50 years in New Jersey politics with no regrets, adding that now is the right time.

The calls are pouring in to salute a man who served in the Assembly, Senate and also served 14 months as governor after former Governor Jim McGreevey announced he was a gay American and planned to leave office in August of 2004.

Codey's wife was having minor surgery that day and he walked to his office to wait, unaware McGreevey was stepping down.

"I walk into my office and they say, 'hello governor,'" Codey said.

Once it was confirmed, he returned to his recovering wife and delivered the news.

"She's in recovery and I tell her, 'you're the first lady,'" Codey said. "She's like 'what do you mean I'm the first lady?' I said, 'well McGreevey is resigning and I'm going to become the governor and you're going to be the first lady. She's like, 'is there anything to knock me back out?"

But during his time in office, the governor and his wife Mary Jo went public with her mental health issues and he became a leading advocate for helping those suffering from depression.

"We're very proud of her and because of that, we passed many laws to help women, especially those who have just given birth," Codey said.

Codey has a playful nature but is known as a straight player in politics and thinks the state has taken major steps to reduce the roll of party bosses running the legislative agenda.

"Outside influence could do nothing good and nothing good happened," Codey said.

He was the first in his Irish family to go to college, in fact, he went to four before graduating from Fairleigh Dickinson.

He won his assembly seat in 1973, became a senator in 1982 and then Senate president in 2002. That's how he became governor when McGreevey officially left office in November of 2004.

Besides improving mental health, Codey expanded the turnpike, improved school security and he was an early supporter of future President Barack Obama.

He is now ready to focus on his insurance business and run the family's funeral homes.

Codey will wrap up his 50-year career in politics at the end of the legislative session in January.


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