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Gov. Jon Corzine in a public service announcement asking people to wear seat-belts in 2007.

Health issues of N.J. governors

By David Wildstein, February 23 2020 3:15 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy will undergo surgery to remove part of his kidney after doctors found a tumor that could be cancerous.

Murphy won’t be the first governor to take some time off to deal with health issues.

During his first summer as governor in 1982, Tom Kean spent about a month in the hospital after a herniated disk caused him to be in traction.

Kean aides set up a satellite governor’s office in a suite on the 5th floor of St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston.  Kean continued to run the state from his hospital bed, holding meetings and bill signings while working to avoid serious back surgery.

After his discharge from the hospital, Kean worked out of his Livingston home until he was able to resume longer car rides to Trenton.

Later that year, Secretary of State Jane Burgio and Assemblyman Bob Franks (R-Berkeley Heights) proposed creating the position of Lt. Governor.  Discussions continued for more than 25 years until the state elected its first Lt. Governor in 2009.

Gov. Christine Todd Whitman was hospitalized several times during her seven years as governor.

She underwent surgery in 1995 to remove a benign ovarian cyst, and in 1996 to repair a damaged rotator cuff.  Whitman was also diagnosed with Lyme disease.  She had an emergency appendectomy in 1998, broke her leg while skiing in Switzerland, and suffered minor injuries during a mountain biking trip in Northern California three weeks after the 2000 Republican National Convention.

After less than a month as governor in 2002, James McGreevey broke his leg after a fall on a beach in Cape May.

In 2007, Gov. Jon Corzine spent more than two weeks in the hospital – including eight days on a ventilator in intensive care — after breaking his leg, collarbone, breast bone and a dozen ribs, and losing almost half his blood in a nearly fatal car accident while driving on the Garden State Parkway.  His car was traveling at a high speed and Corzine was not wearing a seat-belt.

Corzine later released a public service urging people to wear a seat-belt, saying, “I’m New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, and I should be dead”

Gov. Chris Christie was hospitalized in 2011 after having trouble breather on his way to an event.  He attributed his issue to an Asthma event.

Christie underwent lap-band stomach surgery at a New York hospital during President’s Day weekend 2013.  He did not publicly announce the surgery, which was kept secret from even top staffers and close friends – until the New York Post outed him three months later.

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