Codey to endorse Obama

Senate President Richard Codey is expected to endorse Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, according to sources close to Codey, who had served as New Jersey Chairman of John Edwards’ campaign.

Edwards announced today that he would be abandoning his run for the presidency.

Mark Alexander, state director of the Obama Campaign, said he did not know about any decision by Codey to back Obama.

"Of course, we would be very happy to have him," said Alexander.

Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy, co-chair of the Obama Campaign, said he had not heard directly from Codey that the Senate President intends to endorse Obama, but said he believes what he's hearing from other sources about an official announcement on Thursday.

"I'm hearing the same things you're hearing," said Healy. "It's a terrific endorsement, and it's very important."

The Obama people have been working hard for Codey's endorsement ever since Edwards placed a distant second behind Obama in Iowa. Their state campaign office is in Codey's home town of West Orange and one of their key endorsers, former Sen. Bill Bradley, was Codey's pick for president in 2000.

Codey is also close with Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Obama's other co-chair in New Jersey. A portion of Codey's senate district falls within Newark, where yesterday the Obama campaign opened a headquarters for the final week leading up to the Feb. 5 primary.

Senate colleagues were also lobbying Codey this week. On Monday, the same day that U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy endorsed Obama, senators Shirley Turner and Loretta Weinberg told the press they would continue to try to convince Codey he should support their presidential candidate.

"Senate President Codey is an enormously popular leader in New Jersey, and he deserves credit for sticking by his candidate (Edwards) until his candidate dropped out of the race," said Weinberg.

"He's New Jersey's version of Teddy Kennedy," added Weinberg, and she wasn't the only one who made that connection.

"What Dick Codey brings to this campaign is what Teddy Kennedy and John Kerry brought to the campaign," said Jersey City Deputy Mayor Kibili Tayari."I always go back to Iowa and I go back to New Hampshire. You can’t say he just appeals to black people. We’re going to see some more Iowas and some more South Carolinas, and I really think he can work in New Jersey."

Codey is scheduled to appear with otherObama backers, includingU.S. Sen. Bill Bradley, at the Wilshire Hotel inWest Orange on Thursday at 1 p.m. Codey to endorse Obama