Democrats preparing to push McGreevey out

By Tim Grieve
Published August 16, 2004 4:20PM (EDT)

It's looking less and less likely that Jim McGreevey will be able to hold on to the governor's office until Nov. 15. By putting off his resignation date, McGreevey hoped to avoid a special election, to deliver the governorship to the top Democrat in the New Jersey Senate, and to prevent any further distraction from the presidential race. Republicans -- not surprisingly --- have called for McGreevey to resign immediately, and now even some Democrats are preparing to tell the governor: "Thanks, but no thanks."

New Jersey's Star-Ledger reports this morning that three of New Jersey's top Democratic "power brokers" plan to meet with McGreevey this week to tell him that it's time to go. They appear to have a plan in place. Sen. Jon Corzine, a likely candidate for the governor's office in 2005, has signaled that he's willing to run in a special election if necessary, and U.S. Rep. Robert Menendez, a Democrat from Hoboken, hopes that he'd be appointed to fill Corzine's Senate seat.

Although McGreevey's approval ratings actually improved slightly after he made his announcement Thursday, the Star-Ledger says that New Jersey Democrats worry that their party "cannot sustain any more damaging disclosures about McGreevey."

On Friday, Golan Cipel -- the man McGreevey's aides identified as the governor's lover -- said through a lawyer that McGreevey had made unwanted sexual advances toward him and then retaliated when he refused them. Over the weekend, in an interview with an Israeli daily newspaper, Cipel himself said: "It doesn't bother me that it is said I am gay, but I'm really not. I'm straight. On the other hand, to accuse me of being an extortionist? Someone here has lost his mind."

And this morning, the Associated Press is reporting new allegations that McGreevey's office appeared to have struck a deal with Cipel just minutes before the governor's news conference. Cipel's lawyer, Allen Lowy, said: "We had a deal. The next thing I know my secretary told me he's in the process of resigning. I was very surprised. I understood that they were satisfied and it was over."

Lowy said the deal would have required McGreevey to pay money to Cipel, but he wouldn't say how much. A spokeswoman for McGreevey said that Lowy's version of events was "totally incorrect."

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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