If Governor Jon Corzine leaves office early to take a job in Barack Obama’s new administration, his most likely successor is Richard Codey. As Senate President, Codey is next in the gubernatorial line of succession — as he was for 84 hours in 2001 when Donald DiFrancesco left office, and for fourteen months in 2004 and 2005 following James E. McGreevey’s resignation.
But if Codey’s political foes were able to join together in a special election coup d’état, they could remove him from the Senate Presidency, installing a new person to succeed to the governorship. That means a coalition between the seventeen Republican Senators and any block of four Democrats (read: South Jersey) could deny Codey a third term as Governor.
The last time the Legislature cut a deal like this was after the 1971 general election, when Democrats won control of the State Assembly, but Republicans held the speakership. Four Democrats from Hudson and Union counties joined with Republicans to elect Thomas Kean, then the Assembly Majority Leader, as Speaker.