Home>Campaigns>Stack, others want McGreevey to run for Jersey City mayor

Former Gov. Jim McGreevey at Gov. Phil Murphy’s FY2024 Budget Address. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

Stack, others want McGreevey to run for Jersey City mayor

Former governor being urged to enter race to succeed Fulop in 2025

By David Wildstein, May 26 2023 1:26 pm

Several friends and supporters of former Gov. James E. McGreevey, including Brian P. Stack, are urging him to run for mayor of Jersey City in 2025, creating a possible opportunity for the indomitable campaigner to resurrect a political career that ended nearly nineteen years ago with his resignation as governor, the New Jersey Globe has confirmed.

The 65-year-old McGreevey is being recruited to succeed Mayor Steven Fulop, who announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election to a fourth term and is now an announced candidate for the 2025 Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

If he runs, McGreevey will enter the race to run the state’s second-largest city with the enthusiastic support of Stack, the mayor of Union City and the chairman of the State Senate Judiciary Committee.    The North Hudson political powerhouse recently engineered the election of former Rep. Albio Sires as the new mayor of West New York and has spent the last twelve years representing part of Jersey City in the State Senate.

“There would be no better mayor for Jersey City residents than Jim McGreevey,” Stack told the New Jersey Globe.  “I look forward to being a part of his campaign for mayor and devoting any resources or assistance I can provide.  I am really excited.”

Stack stressed his preparedness to help McGreevey assemble a local campaign organization.

“I’ll be there day and night for him to make sure he gets elected if Governor McGreevey decides to run,” Stack said.

McGreveey declined to comment for this story.

Possible candidates to run in Jersey City’s November 2025 non-partisan municipal election include Hudson County Commissioner Bill O’Dea, City Council President Joyce Watterman, Downtown City Councilman James Solomon, Ward F City Councilman Frank E. Gilmore, and Rep. Robert J. Menendez (D-Jersey City).

Elected governor in 2001, McGreevey resigned in August 2004 after a lawsuit that threatened to expose an extramarital affair with another man.  He announced that he was gay, admitted his relationship, apologized to this then-wife and the people of New Jersey, and departed office in November.

Since leaving office, McGreevey actively sought a path to personal and public redemption.  He earned a divinity degree, worked at an additional Hudson County Correctional Center treatment facility, and wrote a memoir, Confession.   He now runs the New Jersey Reentry Corporation, a hugely successful non-profit agency that advocates for the removal of barriers for men and women returning from jail or prison.   His work at the non-profit has won him widespread acclaim from top political leaders from both parties.

While McGreevey’s political base had been Middlesex County, the former governor has strong roots in Hudson County.  He was born in Jersey City, where his grandfather was a police officer, and returned about ten years ago.

Once a close ally of Fulop, the two split after Fulop fired him as head of Jersey City’s Employment & Training  Program in 2019.

A former assistant prosecutor and executive director of the New Jersey Parole Board, McGreevey was elected to the State Assembly in 1989 and then won a hugely competitive race for mayor of Woodbridge, New Jersey’s seventh-largest municipality, in 1991.   In 1993, McGreevey ousted State Sen. Randy Corman (R-Sayreville) by nearly three percentage points to flip the 19th district Senate seat.

In 1997, McGreevey came within 25,426 votes (57%-46%) of ousting a popular Republican governor, Christine Todd Whitman.  Four years later, he was elected governor by fifteen percentage points against Republican Bret Schundler, the mayor of Jersey City; helped by his coattails, Democrat regained control of the State Assembly.

As governor, McGreevey faced several controversies, especially hiring an Israeli citizen, Golan Cipel, as his homeland security advisor despite lacking qualifications.  McGreevey later acknowledged that he was having an affair with Cipel.  Nineteen years later, some political observers wonder whether the issue necessitated his departure from office.

In becoming a candidate for mayor, McGreevey follows the lead of Jerry Brown, who served two terms as governor of California and then returned to office sixteen years later by winning the election as the mayor of Oakland.

If he wins, McGreevey will become the first elected former New Jersey governor to return to public office since William Newell ran for Congress four years after leaving the governor’s office.  He lost re-election two years later and was defeated twice after that.   Later, Newell moved to Washington State when President Rutherford Hayes appointed him territorial governor; he remained there and was later elected mayor of Olympia, Washington.

Four other ex-governors lost comeback bids: Edward Stokes in a Republican U.S. Senate primary, Harold Hoffman in a GOP gubernatorial primary, Robert Meyner in a general election for governor, and Jim Florio in a Democratic U.S. Senate primary.

Another Jersey City politician, A. Harry Moore served three non-consecutive terms as governor in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s when New Jersey governors were limited to one three-year term.   He was elected to the U.S. Senate between two of his gubernatorial stints.

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