What if Corzine doesn’t run again?

PoliticsNJ.com readers, in a highly unscientific survey that asks if Jon Corzine would rather be Governor of New Jersey or

PoliticsNJ.com readers, in a highly unscientific survey that asks if Jon Corzine would rather be Governor of New Jersey or the U.S. Ambassador to Italy, say by a 2-1 margin that the Hold Me Accountable man would rather be in Rome than Trenton. Even Corzine's friends suggest that he's not loving life as Governor. Between problems with the Legislature, issues within his administration and personal life, and serious injuries suffered in a automobile accicdent last spring, it's not surprising that Corzine isn't having fun.

Corzine has not yet said he would seek re-election to a second term in 2009; in fact, he used the word "if" and not "when" in talks about his candidacy. And it's not unusual in New Jersey for an elected official to opt out of a hold me accountable situation with the voters: three recent statewide officeholders were not on the ballot for second terms.

So here's the hypothetical: Corzine doesn't run again — he either takes a federal appointment or justs to retires. And heres the question: Will New Jersey Democrats actually get to see a primary?

If Corzine doesn't run, most Democrats view Senate President (and former Governor) Richard Codey as the front runner for the '09 Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Codey, the most popular man in New Jersey, according to independent polls, could have run two years ago, but he blinked during a high-stakes game of political poker with the mega millionaire Corzine. Would Codey, who could be the incumbent Governor if Corzine leaves early, blink again?

And would Rob Andrews, the ten-term Congressman from Camden County, allow Codey to clear the field? Andrews came close to winning the Democratic nomination for Governor ten years ago (some pundits think he would have won the race James E. McGreevey lost against Christine Todd Whitman), declined to run for the United States Senate five years ago (when Robert Torricelli left the race), and was passed over last year after Corzine appointed Robert Menendez to his Senate seat. This could be Andrews' last shot, and with the support of the seemingly anti-Codey South Jersey Democratic machine — and their affiliates in the North — it would be difficult to not view Andrews as a real threat to Codey's nomination.

One last question: does the possibility of Corzine not running, and Codey becoming Governor for at least another year, cause some Democrats — especially the ones from South Jersey who are on the cusp of adding several State Senate seats to their portfolio — to think even more seriously about challenging Codey for Senate President after the fall election? What if Corzine doesn’t run again?