Dick Codey made the right choice today when he decided not to enter this year’s gubernatorial campaign.
Despite his popularity, the odds of Codey defeating Chris Christie in November were slim. In fact, he wouldn’t even have been a lock to win the Democratic nomination, given the roles that powerbrokers and factions play in the party.
Had Codey been the Democratic standard-bearer, he would have been the target of negative campaigning and personal attacks over the course of the campaign. Unfortunately, this is a fact of life for any candidate seeking office today.
But in Codey’s case, the content of attack ads (even if untrue or misleading) could – in the span of a few months – jeopardize the largely positive image he built during four decades in public life. He also runs the risk of tarnishing his legacy.
Instead, Codey takes a page from Jerry Seinfeld and moves toward the end of his public career on a positive note. “When you hit that high note, you say goodnight and walk off,” the popular comedian explained in a Seinfeld episode titled “The Burning.”
Codey’s decision also could score him some points with Christie. A Codey-Christie contest would have been competitive and expensive. Codey’s now bought himself a bargaining chip with the front office.
Just how all of this plays out is uncertain, but with more than eight more months to go before Election Day, it looks like New Jersey is in for another interesting and unpredictable gubernatorial campaign.
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