Twenty years after he resigned as governor of New Jersey in a sex scandal that enthralled the nation, former governor Jim McGreevey took a formal step towards staging a political return on Tuesday.
McGreevey, a Democrat, has declared his candidature for mayor of Jersey City in 2025 by filing paperwork with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission. It establishes the “Jim McGreevey for mayor” campaign committee and designates its treasurer.
Steven Fulop, the current mayor of the city, has announced that he will not be running for reelection but instead for governor in 2025, McGreevey’s previous position. McGreevey may have local ties and name recognition, but he has competition from other mayoral candidates.
When AWN called to ask about the file, McGreevey, then 66 years old, responded but indicated he would have to get back to them.
It is quite uncommon for a former governor to run for a lesser office after leaving the governorship. McGreevey would be going full circle in more ways than one. From 1991 until 2002, he was also the mayor of Woodbridge and a member of the state legislature. He was born and raised in Jersey City and has just made a comeback to the state’s second-largest city, where he is in charge of a statewide jail rehabilitation programme.
“Being governor is so much about the budget, the dollar,” he said to the New York Times last month. To be mayor is to focus on making neighbourhoods better places to live.
In 2001, McGreevey won the governor’s race and took office the following year.
During his two years in office, he oversaw significant policy changes, such as a massive school construction programme and an overhaul of New Jersey’s auto insurance industry that resulted in lower insurance premiums for drivers. He also closed the state’s budget deficit, which was the largest in the country at the time, without increasing sales or income taxes.
The most memorable aspect of McGreevey’s career, however, is undoubtedly his shocking resignation and declaration that he is “a gay American” in 2004. This was ten years before same-sex marriage was legalised.
An ongoing issue involving Israeli national Golan Cipel was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. Despite Cipel’s lack of experience and inability to obtain a federal security clearance, McGreevey appointed him as a homeland security consultant in 2002. McGreevey dismissed rumours of an affair after their hiring sparked speculation about their connection.
McGreevey and Cipel’s covert connection lasted until it ended badly. As early as July of 2004, Cipel’s legal team made sexual harassment claims against McGreevey. McGreevey says he was extorted, but he had to pay the price for his actions. In a statement that would go down in American history books, he announced his resignation and admission of an extramarital affair that August.
Every person, at some point in their lives, must “look deeply into the mirror of one’s soul and decide one’s unique truth in the world,” he said. That I am a gay American is, therefore, my truth.
Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi’s daughter, Alexandra Pelosi, made an HBO documentary about McGreevey, and he also became a priest and authored a memoir after leaving office.
He had previously resolved to leave politics forever, but has apparently been persuaded to make a comeback in the form of a mayoral bid in recent months. It appears that his next chapter in New Jersey politics will begin with his filing on Tuesday.