Richard Codey was a relatively obscure career legislator from Essex County when James E. McGreevey's resignation catipulted him to the most powerful governorship in New Jersey for fourteen months. New Jerseyans seemed to take to Codey's average guy persona, and his approval ratings were through the roof. Still, he wasn't strong enough to take on then-U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine, who was prepared to self-finance his race, in the Democratic primary.
Three years later, Codey remains the state's most popular politician. He is known by 73% of voters, and has a 49%-11% favorable rating. If Corzine doesn't run again, Codey is the front runner to win the Democratic nomination for Governor in 2009.