Former Gov. Richard Codey rumbled this week with his compatriot in the gubernatorial club, Gov. Christie.
It's a unique situation. Codey, who as senate president was elevated to the governor’s chair after Gov. Jim McGreevey resigned amid a gay sex scandal, is a sitting legislator. So far during Christie’s term, he has had more immediate conflicts within his own party after Democratic power brokers engineered a coup last year that ended with him being replaced as senate president.
But now, it's governor versus governor. Last week, Christie accused Codey and Sen. Ron Rice of “playing political games” in delaying the confirmation of 20 Christie nominees for various state boards and commissions. Under the practice of “senatorial courtesy,” senators from the same county as nominees can act single-handedly prevent confirmations.
Then Codey said Christie was lying. Then Christie said he wouldn’t file nominations for Essex County judges until agreements were reached on all outstanding nominees. Then Codey said Christie “has no respect for the judiciary,” blaming him for significant delays in the Essex courts due to a lack of judges.
Then, this, from Christie on Wednesday in Pennsauken: “What I’ve learned about legislators over time, and particularly about Sen. Codey, is that they seem to be much more worried about the perks of the job than they are about actually getting the job done.”
And that’s when Codey suddenly lost said perks. The Star-Ledger reported here that the state police security detail and vehicle that Codey had been afforded as a former governor was taken away. A Codey friend, Lawrence DeMarzo, was fired from the state Division of Consumer Affairs, where he was making $107,406 job as deputy director. And Codey’s cousin, Christopher Hartwyk, was set to be replaced in his $215,000 job as deputy counsel at the Port Authority.
Codey, who recently wrote "Me, Governor?" (and who still answers to the honorific "governor"), told the Associated Press yesterday that the fight needed to end. "This whole thing is demeaning to the office," he said.
And Christie’s spokesman, Michael Drewniak, asked: “Is it possible to quote me looking disinterested?"
“He takes things as they come,” Codey’s chief of staff, Jon Boguchwal, told me earlier. “And right now his main focus is concentrating on getting the right Christmas presents for his wife and kids.”
So for now, the feud has fizzled. But these are the two most popular elected politicians in the state. A possible 2013 gubernatorial face-off – ex-gov versus current gov – would be enticing. And we might have just seen the first brush-back pitch.