The impact of Hurricane Sandy extends beyond the physical devastation, New Jersey’s political agenda was dramatically altered, according to former governor and state senator Richard Codey (D-27). He tells NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider, the storm brought people together including the state’s political leaders.
“You didn’t see people criticizing the governor, he did an outstanding job with the storm, no political rhetoric,” said Codey.
The enormity of superstorm Sandy and the devastation it left behind has state leaders speculating about the size of the aid coming from Washington. “I just left the governor’s about an hour ago and he was talking about maybe we’ll get as much money that the state of Louisiana got from Katrina which was over $100 billion,” said Codey.
The loss of revenue and jobs as a result of Sandy have shifted spending priorities completely in the post-Sandy state house, according to Codey. He goes so far as to say that he would consider cuts that he absolutely would not have supported before the storm.
“I mean you really got to cut the bone,” he said. “How do we shore up our economy, pardon the pun. But the governor is in a tough position and he’s gonna have to make some really tough choices. So does the legislature.”
To make those tough choices, Codey says that it’s now more likely than before that the governor and the Democrats will meet each other halfway. “You’ve got to show real statesman-like ability and now’s the time to stand up and do that despite going into an election season.”
Democratic leaders having been pushing for an increase in minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.50. Some wonder whether, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, it makes less sense to mandate a higher minimum wage for some small businesses. But Codey says now is the right time because people are suffering now more than ever. While he thinks the bill will make it the governor’s desk, whether or not he signs it is another matter. Codey says he would support Senate President Steve Sweeney’s plan but would not support a bill that Christie would conditionally veto.
Today, Gov. Christie filed papers with the Election Law Enforcement Commission today to begin his 2013 campaign for re-election. While he was not surprised by the decision, Codey says it was interesting from a tactical standpoint if Christie plans to make a run for the White House in 2016.
“I think if I were in his position I would have left and if he wants to run for president which I assume he wants to, go into the broadcast industry … he could position himself I think even better maybe that way and another four years as governor can be tough on you.”
Asked about his own gubernatorial ambitions, Codey says he will soon make his decision but that he won’t be affected by a fear of failure. Another non-factor in his decision, he says, is Newark mayor Cory Booker’s decision to enter the race. Poll numbers for Codey and Booker are closely matched.
[Booker's] decision is not going to affect mine and I’m sure my decision I won’t affect him.”