Monday, November 15, 2004

Chuck Schumer isn't going to run for governor in 2006. I think that's good news -- he's been part of the Judiciary Committeee team that's blocked some of Bush's worst nominees, and the Democrats already have a strong candidate for governor, crusading attorney general Eliot Spitzer. I grew up in a state, Massachusetts, that's dominated by Democrats but regularly elects Republican governors because the Democrats can't regroup after bruising primary battles; in that respect, New York sometimes resembles Massachusetts, though maybe now it won't in '06.

Jon Corzine of New Jersey is also thinking of running for governor; the Jersey Democratic Party has been hurt by the McGreevey mess, and in theory Corzine is by far the strongest Democratic candidate, much more so than the little-known acting governor, Dick Codey, who was just sworn in. However, Bob Hennelly at the local NPR outlet, WNYC, did a story on Codey this morning, and I wonder if people are going to get to like the guy:

[HENNELLY:] Sitting on the couch of his busy Senate Majority Leader office Codey has used not being recognized to his advantage. Several years ago, as a state senator, he learned that almost a third of the employees at the state’s psychiatric hospitals had criminal records. Some for murder. Codey, armed with a forgettable face, decided to assume the name of a dead felon to see if he could get hired.

CODEY: So I decided to go undercover. I got a job at Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital as an orderly working the midnight shift. My first day at work I was told ‘You're lucky -- the midnight shift is the easiest way to have sex with the patients.’ I saw things I did not see in the movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". As a result of what I uncovered the President of the hospital and about thirty five to forty other employees were let go. We now require in our state psychiatric hospitals criminal background checks on every employee before they can go to work."

[HENNELLY:] ... Despite the fact that he will serve as Governor for 14 months he and his wife and two sons will not move to the Governor’s mansion in Princeton. He says for his family, working class Irish Catholics, a key goal was to get out of public housing.

CODEY: Born and raised in the City of Orange, one of five, raised in a small apartment house over my dad’s funeral home. My generation in my family is the first to get a college degree. My parents and grandparents never had an opportunity for an education or to even live in a private home. So I think I’m like the average New Jersey family--- each generation doing better.

[HENNELLY:] Codey says he got a grasp of the importance of knowing who was who in local politics parking cars at his father’s funeral home.

CODEY: Politics -- I know politics really well. When I was about thirteen I worked for my dad at the funeral home in the parking lot and my dad always told me if there are no parking spots left and a priest or a politician pulls in, find them a spot.

[HENNELLY:] A few years later when Codey‘s father was appointed county coroner a young Dick Cody would accompany his father on his rounds.

CODEY: At the age of 14 to 15 I was taking bodies off train tracks, out of plane crashes, out of rivers. You grow up very quickly....

I'm not saying this guy is a budding superstar, but this material is pretty good, no? I half-think that if the Democrats had a presidential candidate who could tell stories like this, Bush might be starting to pack up right now. Dammit, we have regular guys, too (and by "we" I mean Democrats and Northeasterners).

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