Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Long-Shot Buono Could Be Dems' Best Bet

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Long-Shot Buono Could Be Dems' Best Bet

Article excerpt

The field is clearing for Middlesex County Sen. Barbara Buono, once considered a liberal long shot for the Democratic nomination for governor, after another well-known Democrat announced Friday that he would not run for the job.

Buono, 59, who had fallen out of favor with party leaders and fared poorly in early matchup polls with Governor Christie, is poised to become a possible default nominee, the only candidate left standing after other prominent choices abandoned the quest.

State Sen. Richard J. Codey, D-Essex, said Friday that he would not run for governor, a post he held for 14 months after Gov. James E. McGreevey resigned.

Sources close to Codey said he seemed ready to leap into the race after national labor leaders he met in Washington, D.C., this week vowed to support him if he ran.

Codey, a funeral director, said Friday that he was candid with Democrats about "stumbling blocks" that would prohibit him from running once Newark Mayor Cory Booker announced he wasn't entering the race, including Codey's recent purchase of a second funeral home.

"That was a major investment for me and my family based on a calculation that I would not be running for governor," Codey said. "When [Booker] decided not to go, I told people who were calling me it was going to be hard for me to walk away from that business."

Codey said he and his wife, Mary Jo, who suffers from mental illness, are in the process of launching The Codey Foundation on Mental Health, which was also a factor in his decision. The organization recently received its federal tax number, and Codey said there will be a kickoff announcement soon.

"That will be our legacy," he said.

Codey, who served as governor from August 2004 to January 2006, had the highest statewide name recognition among Democrats after Booker dropped out, according to recent polls. …

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