National labor pledges support to Codey after D.C. trip

Four people close to former Gov. Dick Codey say the Essex County senator came away from meetings in Washington, D.C., yesterday with assurances that organized labor would aggressively support him should he decide to make a bid for governor.

According to three of the sources, the meetings left Codey leaning toward challenging Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

Among the leaders Codey met with were AFL-CIO national President Richard Trumka and AFSCME national President Lee Saunders.

State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech, who traveled to D.C. with Codey, said the meetings were very positive.

“He was encouraged. It was a very positive trip, but he has not made a decision yet,” Wowkanech said. “If he ran he would have strong national labor support. He is a longtime supporter of labor, and he could count on labor if he runs.”

Now, according to the sources, who spoke to Codey this morning, his only issues are personal ones.

“If you’d have asked me yesterday I’d have said he’s out, but after talking to him today, I’d say it’s 75 percent or better he’ll run,” said one source. A second source spoken to put the chances lower than 75 percent but still above 50/50.

The sources cautioned that Codey’s personal issues could still dissuade him from running and all stopped short of guaranteeing he’ll enter the race.

“There’s no way to know how those issues will play out,” one source said. 

Codey has been mulling a potential run for months, but became more serious about it in December when Newark Mayor Cory Booker announced his intent to forego a challenge to Christie and instead seek a U.S. Senate seat in 2014.

Codey told PolitickerNJ earlier this month that he hoped to raise as much as $45 million for a gubernatorial run, including the $12 million he would expect to get in state matching funds.

Some Democrats scoffed at the number and said the inflated figure was a sign Codey intended to sit the race out, however, his meetings convinced the state senator who served 14 months as governor he could win.

Codey did not return several calls for comment on the meetings.  

"I’m an undertaker by trade, so when I bury somebody, they don’t come back."
—Bergen County Democratic Chairman Lou Stellato