HACKENSACK – On the tenth anniversary of the speech that turned New Jersey politics on its ear, state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3), a potential gubernatorial candidate, assessed the short time in office of the man who left the Trenton stage a decade ago under intense scrutiny: former Democratic Gov. Jim McGreevey.
“He didn’t have an easy time, and it was brief,” said Sweeney on Tuesday, referring to McGreevey’s duration in the Garden State governor’s seat from January 2002 to November 2004. “I didn’t think he had to resign, to be perfectly honest with you, and I was disappointed that he did resign.”
McGreevey’s resignation came in dramatic fashion. After months of controversy stemming from his appointment of Israeli Golan Cipel as New Jersey’s homeland security adviser despite questionable qualifications, and subsequent queries about his extramarital relationship with Cipel, among other issues, McGreevey spoke before a packed press conference on August 12, 2004.
“At a point in every person’s life, one has to look deeply into the mirror of one’s soul and decide one’s unique truth in the world, not as we may want to see it or hope to see it, but as it is,” McGreevey said ten years ago. “And so my truth is that I am a gay American.”
Sweeney, a South Jersey politician who has served in the state Senate since 2002 and was on the Trenton scene during McGreevey’s turbulent time in office, paused during his tour of the John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center in Bergen County’s capital to echo those fateful words.
“Being a gay American is nothing to be ashamed of,” Sweeney told PolitickerNJ. “It does not prevent you from leading a government, a corporation or a family.”