If you’ve come across former New Jersey Governor turned State Senator Richard “Dick” Codey, you may have had the opportunity to have him charm you. You may have been disarmed by a joke or, upon finishing up a conversation, remarked to yourself that “he’s quite the nice guy.” After all, why wouldn’t you? The former Governor, who took over the helm of the Garden State after scandal rocked former Governor Jim McGreevy’s administration, has made it his living to seem like your quirky neighbor and best friend. He’s even named his biography Me, Governor? as if it was some big impossibility for a quirky mans-man like him to have achieved that feat.
As Mr. Codey has assumed the persona of a friendly, helpful neighbor, he has also specialized in putting down people he perceives as “bullies”. He was critical of former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for using bully-tactics to push his agenda and connect with the voters. “My feeling is, you lead by example, and you can disagree with people, but be a gentleman.” And yet despite his outward show of friendliness and civility, Mr. Codey actually plays the same game as every mean and nasty politician. Far from the gentleman that he claims to be, Mr. Codey spends his free time slinging accusations at people he doesn’t like for personal reasons.
For proof, look no further than his demeanor and attitude in the upcoming Roseland Democratic Primary. Now, he isn’t actually running himself in the June 5th election, but he has handpicked a series of candidates and campaigned for them with gusto. Mr. Codey has made it his mission to take over the town of Roseland with his candidates for no other reason than to wage a personal war against the Essex County Democrats, and he has spear-headed a movement hell bent on tarnishing the reputation of the Roseland Democratic Party. His attacks have turned intensely personal and increasingly vitriolic as he has spewed several accusations towards the Line A team in the hopes of grappling control of the Borough.
Mr. Codey wastes no opportunity to complain about employees with “county” pensions, without a mention of the fact that the pension is connected to over 25+ years of service and putting one’s life on the line, as is the case with police officers and first responders. Mr. Codey throws the word pension around like a curse word without ever acknowledging that these employees have spent their entire careers paying into the fund while risking their lives to keep our families in Essex County safe. Should we punish those who serve by excluding them from public sector jobs upon leaving the military, police, fire, or other emergency services? It sounds ridiculous when you think about it that way, doesn’t it?
Additionally, Mr. Codey has clothed his campaigning as a fight for the middle class and against the corrupt establishment, but continually downplays the fact that he is running his own son on the ballot. The same son that is working one of the companies most desperate to develop Roseland, including the Becker Farm complex, for their own advantage. While attempting to tarnish the reputations of other candidates with smokescreen allegations of corruption, he’s been quite vocal about improving the infrastructure and development of the Borough of Roseland. The chief developer for several locations? JMF Properties, the company in which Codey’s own son Kevin (the same one running on the June 5th ballot) is the Director of Acquisitions.
Mr. Codey isn’t against the political establishment; he is resentful that he is not running it. In attempting to dismantle the County’s “political machine”, he’s really just trying to build up his own. He had no problem with the establishment when he was in running things. Mr. Codey himself has been involved in the Roseland Democratic Committee for years, and frankly you can trace the Republican takeover of Roselands town government directly to Codey’s most active years. While claiming that big politics is what’s ruining Roseland, he is the one that has turned the town into a battleground for his own selfish reasons. As one Roseland resident remarked, “Political signs were never used in Roseland until Codey moved into the borough. There used to be a gentleman’s agreement about fights like these. These things ruin the complexion of the borough, and you can blame for former Governor for that.”
Do these things sound gentlemanly? Do they sound like something that a friendly neighbor and good hearted politician would do? Or does it sound like the same bully-tactics that Codey accused Chris Christie of doing during his time as governor?
It seems that Mr. Codey is attempting to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes, hoping they won’t see how intensely hypocritical and dirty his own tactics are. Politicians are rarely all they present themselves to be. It doesn’t matter how much you mark it up, put a smile on, or say you’re an everyday guy. So, Richard Codey, shall we revisit what you said about Chris Christie way back when? If you want to have people actually believe you’re a gentleman, you can’t get by with cheap parlor tricks, you actually need to act like one.