Former Gov. Richard Codey thinks it’s time for Gov. Phil Murphy to bring Republican legislative leaders in on discussions about reopening the state as cases of COVID-19 are reduced.
“The governor should reach out,” said Codey, an Essex County Democrat who is one of Murphy’s closest allies in the State Senate. “It’s time.”
Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick told the New Jersey Globe on Tuesday that Murphy has failed to build coalitions to support the continued shutdown of non-essential businesses closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“Jon is a great legislator. I consider him a friend. He’s a good leader,” said Codey. “Same thing for (Senate Minority Leader) Tom Kean. I have nothing but good to say about him and his father.”
Codey was first elected to the legislature in 1973, part of a massive Watergate-era Democratic wave that left the GOP with just 14 Assembly seats. Thomas H. Kean was Assembly Speaker at the time, and served as minority leader during Codey’s first four years in Trenton.
Kean Sr. was elected governor in 1981, the same year Codey won an Essex County State Senate seat in a district that included some of the municipalities Kean had represented in the Assembly more than a decade earlier.
Codey said he has discussed high school graduations with Murphy and that they “both have a strong desire to see it happen.”
“If there’s any way to get that done, it should,” he told the Globe. “Emotionally, it’s a big issue. They should get to wear the gown.”
Murphy is asked about the status of graduation ceremonies nearly every day. While saying that the Class of 2020 shouldn’t give up on walking with their class, he’s not ready to say yes or no at this point.
“If there’s hope out there that in some form, folks at some point in the future, not crazy distant future, can gather for graduations, if you’ve got that hope, I have that hope as well,” Murphy said on Tuesday.