Richard Codey

Richard James "Dick" Codey (born November 27, 1946) is an American Democratic Party politician in the U.S. State of New Jersey. He has served in the New Jersey Senate (the upper house of the New Jersey Legislature) since 1981, and has been the President of the Senate since 2002. He represents the 27th Legislative District, which covers the western portions of Essex County.

Codey served as the 53rd Governor of New Jersey (by virtue of his status as President of the New Jersey Senate) from the resignation of Governor James McGreevey on November 15, 2004 until the inauguration of Jon Corzine on January 17, 2006. As there was no Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey at the time (the office will come into being beginning in 2009), he again assumed the role of Acting Governor from April 12, 2007 to May 7, 2007, when Governor Corzine was involved in a serious automobile accident and was in critical condition at Cooper University Hospital. He has previously served as Acting Governor one time, and Governor one time as a result of two vacancies following gubernatorial resignations.


Codey grew up in his family's funeral home in Orange and graduated from Oratory Preparatory School in Summit. He went on to take over his father's job as a licensed funeral director. When his father, Donald, became the county coroner, Richard was drafted to help with death scene pickups. "I was 14, taking bodies out of train wrecks. You grow up quick."

Codey left the funeral trade to try his hand in politics in 1973 when he was first elected to the State Assembly and served from 1974 to 1981. He was elected to the State Senate in 1981 and has risen through the ranks to become State Senate President in 2002. He serves in the Senate on the Legislative Services Commission. He also has a hockey arena named in his honor, also known as South Mountain Arena in West Orange, NJ.

Acting Gubernatorial service 2002

Following Governor Christie Todd Whitman's resignation the previous year to become head of the EPA, Codey was one of three different Senate Presidents (along with Donald DiFrancesco and John O. Bennett, along with Attorney General John Farmer) to serve as Acting Governor for the one-year period between Whitman's resignation and Jim McGreevey's inauguration. DiFrancesco served as acting governor for all but the last week of this period, until his term as senate president ended. Farmer, Bennett and Codey then divided the last week of the term among them, with Codey serving for three days, from January 12, 2002, to January 15, 2002.

Gubernatorial service 2004-2006

Codey became Acting Governor again with the resignation of Jim McGreevey on November 15, 2004. According to the New Jersey State Constitution at the time, in the event of a vacancy in the Governor's office, the President of the State Senate takes on the additional position of Acting Governor until the next gubernatorial election. After taking over in 2004 Codey became popular with many New Jersey residents and reportedly considered a run for a full four-year term. However, U.S. Senator Jon Corzine's large number of endorsements as well as his large campaign war chest, funded primarily by his great personal wealth, convinced Codey to announce officially on January 31, 2005 that he would step aside. Codey served as Governor until Corzine was sworn in on January 17, 2006 following Corzine's victory in the November 8, 2005 elections. Some had speculated that Codey could be a possible candidate for Corzine's vacant seat in the United States Senate, with Corzine appointing his own successor once he was sworn in as Governor. However, Codey announced on November 23, 2005 that he was not interested in the Senate seat.

With the passage on November 8, 2005, of a constitutional amendment creating the position of Lieutenant Governor, Codey became the last person to serve simultaneously as Governor and Senate President. In the event of a permanent gubernatorial vacancy before the first Lieutenant Governor takes office on January 12 2010, the Senate President (or Assembly Speaker) will become Governor and will be required to relinquish his (or her) seat in the legislature.

On January 9, 2006, Codey became Governor (no longer Acting Governor) as a result of his signing legislation that provides a person who serves as Acting Governor for continuous period of at least 180 days will be "Governor of the State of New Jersey" for official and historical purposes.

Codey has been an outspoken advocate of mental health awareness and strongly favors including mental health funding in employee medical benefit packages and Medicare. Both Codey and his wife, Mary Jo, have spoken candidly about her past struggles with postpartum depression. In early 2005, Codey responded in person to New Jersey 101.5 talk radio host Craig Carton, who jokingly criticized Mary Jo and her mental health on the air. Some argue that Codey's comments were a physical threat against the radio personality. The Governor himself admits to telling Carton during the altercation that he wished he could "take [Carton] outside", while in the presence of the six New Jersey State Policemen who were serving as his personal bodyguards. There was some speculation that this incident helped Codey decide not to run for a full term as governor. In July 2005, Codey also defended actress Brooke Shields after she faced criticism for discussing her postpartum depression. In December 2005, Codey appeared on Carton's radio program to help put the incident behind both of them.

As governor, Codey championed a bill to ban smoking from indoor spaces in the state, more money for stem cell research, increased funding for mental health, and sports. Codey created a task force to recommend ways to end steroid abuse in high school and college sports in the state. The task force established drug testing for high school athletes on teams that play in the championship. The state will pay for the drug testing program. He also successfully negotiated for a new stadium to be constructed jointly by the New York Giants and New York Jets.

In December 2005, Codey announced he was not accepting a new state slogan recommended by the State Commerce Department, following a study by a marketing consultant, which was paid for by the state. He said he felt the slogan "We'll win you over" made the state seem desperate. Governor Codey openly solicited slogan suggestions from citizens and then choose five finalists, which he opened to a vote from the public. Days prior to leaving the governor's office, Codey announced the winner: New Jersey: Come See for Yourself.

As Corzine attended the swearing in of Bob Menendez as a U.S. Senator on January 18 2006, in Washington, D.C., Codey spent part of his first day as former governor as the acting governor of the state.

Return to Senate service

Codey was re-elected to the New Jersey Senate in 2007. Codey represents the 27th Legislative District together with Assemblyman John F. McKeon, who is coincidentally also the mayor of West Orange, a town in Essex County, New Jersey, where Senator Codey's family was raised and currently lives. The other Assembly seat is occupied by Mila Jasey, who was elected to fill the seat in November 2007 after the resignation of Mims Hackett on September 8, 2007.

In September, 2006, during Mr. Menendez's re-election campaign for his U.S. Senate seat, it was revealed that Menendez was the subject of an ongoing federal criminal investigation. The situation closely resembles the situation faced by Robert Torricelli in his 2002 re-election campaign, where ethical problems and declining poll numbers led to Torricelli exiting the race, to be replaced as the Democratic candidate by former senator Frank Lautenberg. Political observers speculated that Codey could be tapped to fill the candidate's slot should Menendez decide to withdraw from the race. However, on November 7, 2006, Menendez was elected to a full term.

Acting Gubernatorial service in 2007

On April 12, 2007, Codey became Acting Governor of New Jersey when Governor Jon Corzine was incapacitated due to serious injuries suffered in a car accident that day. Codey became Acting Governor since New Jersey will not have the position of Lieutenant Governor until after the 2009 election. Corzine resumed his duties as Governor on May 7, 2007.


  • Virginia Bauer, Secretary of Commerce, Economic Growth and Tourism
  • George Hayman, Acting Commissioner of Corrections (as of January 3, 2006)
  • Donald Bryan, Acting Commissioner of Banking and Insurance
  • Peter Cammarano, Chief of Staff to the Governor
  • Bradley Campbell, Commissioner of Environmental Protection
  • Thomas Carver, Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development (until October 2005)
  • James Davy, Commissioner of Human Services
  • Lucille Davy, Acting Commissioner of Education (from September 2005)
  • Paul Fader, Chief Counsel to the Governor
  • Jeanne Fox, President of the Board of Public Utilities
  • Col. Joseph Fuentes, Superintendent of the State Police
  • Peter C. Harvey, State Attorney General
  • Dr. Fred Jacobs, Commissioner of Health and Senior Services
  • Charles Kuperus, Secretary of Agriculture
  • John Lettiere, Commissioner of Transportation
  • Susan Bass Levin, Commissioner of Community Affairs (until June 2005)
  • William Librera, Commissioner of Education (until September 2005)
  • John McCormac, State Treasurer
  • Charles Richman, Acting Commissioner of Community Affairs (from June 2005)
  • Major Gen. Glenn K. Rieth, Adjutant General
  • A.J. Sabath, Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development (from October 2005)
  • Seema Singh, Ratepayer Advocate
  • Regena Thomas, Secretary of State of New Jersey
  • Rolando Torres, Commissioner of Personnel


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