N.J. governor resigns, citing affair with man
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Several individuals close to McGreevey have been named in corruption scandals. In one of them, real estate developer Charles Kushner, McGreevey's biggest campaign contributor, has been charged with trying to thwart a federal campaign finance investigation by sending a prostitute to a grand jury witness and showing the man's wife -- Kushner's sister -- images of the encounter.
McGreevey suggested it was unusual for someone his age to declare his sexuality, and do so publicly. ''I do not believe that God tortures any person simply for its own sake. I believe that God enables all things to work for the greater good. And this, the 47th year of my life, is arguably too late to have this discussion. But it is here, and it is now."
The governor took no questions after making his statement at a hastily called news conference. His wife stood beside him, staring with a fixed smile, and his parents stood behind him. A spokesman for McGreevey declined to answer questions about whether the governor would remain married. Dina McGreevey is his second wife.
Political specialists and gay rights activists voiced a range of reactions, from shock to respect.
''This will be a case study in crisis management forever more," said Costas Panagopoulos, the director of a graduate program in political campaign management at New York University. ''We've had other moments like this in American politics, but nothing quite at this level. This is a reality that many American elected officials have probably faced, but not with the degree of urgency that the governor was probably faced with. It's clear that some allegations were to be made public."
Michael Adams, a spokesman for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a gay rights organization, said: ''It was a pretty amazing announcement. Today, Governor McGreevey took his first step toward leading a full life as a gay person. Among other things, we are hoping the very open and human way of making his announcement might help even more Americans support gay people who have been making that decision for many years."
Adams said New Jersey has been in the forefront of protecting gay rights, but he said McGreevey's own record has been mixed. ''He has been very supportive of domestic partnership rights, but has not been supportive to date of marriage rights for gay couples," he said.
Two political analysts said they doubted that McGreevey's resignation would have much effect on the outcome of the presidential race in New Jersey, which has been reliably Democratic in recent elections.
''This is a personal scandal. It doesn't have anything discernible to do with governing or party politics," said Democratic analyst Rick Thigpen. ''In New Jersey, [US Senator] Jon Corzine is in charge of the Kerry campaign, not Jim McGreevey. I think for Kerry, it may make things easier, because now there won't be a Democratic governor with questions over his head."
This month's Quinnipiac survey found that a slight majority of New Jersey voters -- 53 percent -- said the corruption scandals gave them serious concerns about McGreevey's honesty and integrity. Another 31 percent said the opposite. The survey also showed McGreevey's approval rating dropping to 38 percent.
Glen Johnson reported from Boston. Material from the Associated Press was also used.
© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.