TRENTON, N.J. – Gov. James E. McGreevey (search) returned to the Statehouse this week hoping to get back to work after his stunning resignation announcement. He met with cabinet members and his homeland security advisers and took steps to hand over the reins of his administration to the new governor.
But the turmoil surrounding his resignation doesn't seem to be going away.
Republicans continue to demand that he leave office now, and state Democrats are looking to Sen. Jon Corzine (search) as a possible candidate in a special election if McGreevey were to step down immediately.
Senate President Richard J. Codey (search), a Democrat who is to become acting governor when McGreevey leaves office Nov. 15, says McGreevey would not be pushed into stepping down before his chosen departure date.
"He is very firm and resolved to stay until Nov. 15," Codey told a horde of reporters Tuesday after meeting with McGreevey to discuss the transition.
When he emerged from a Trenton hotel after meeting with cabinet officials, McGreevey had a two-word answer for reporters who asked what he was working on: "Homeland security."
McGreevey, 47, announced his resignation last week, telling a nationally televised news conference he was gay and had an extramarital affair with a man.
He plans to leave office Nov. 15, allowing Codey to serve out the remainder of his term. If McGreevey leaves by Sept. 3, a special election would be held in November.
Former Gov. Christie Whitman (search) on Tuesday became the latest Republican to demand that McGreevey leave now, saying he simply cannot do the job under mounting public pressure and scrutiny. She called it a "transparently political" decision.
"He should step aside right now," said Whitman, who was McGreevey's predecessor. "The minute you announce that you're going to resign you're a lame duck and it becomes increasingly impossible to get anything done."
She did not expressly rule out running in a special election.
"I think it really depends on who's running on the other side," Whitman said.
Administration officials discounted charges that McGreevey could not govern during his extended lame-duck tenure.
"Everybody who knows Gov. McGreevey knows he is a hard worker, he's been anxious to get back to work," spokesman Micah Rasmussen said.
Corzine's place in the political landscape remained uncertain. Democrats continued to press privately for Corzine to help the party by considering a run for governor if McGreevey resigns in time for a special election.
Corzine's spokesman has said the senator is not interested in running in a special election. Senior party officials in Washington said they want to avoid a special election that could cost them Corzine's seat and muddle the presidential race in New Jersey.
Codey met with Corzine on Tuesday, but said little about the meeting. "I spoke to Jon about the government and where we're going," Codey said.
If there is an election, several Republicans have expressed an interest and party leaders are looking to veterans like Whitman or Tom Kean, a former two-term governor.
Meanwhile, another scandal surrounding McGreevey is expected to reach court on Wednesday. A federal official said a top donor to McGreevey is to plead guilty Wednesday in a case involving allegations that he had a prostitute seduce a government witness.
Charles Kushner was accused July 13 of hiring a prostitute to have sex with his own brother-in-law, who was a cooperating witness in an investigation into whether Kushner violated campaign contribution laws and committed tax fraud. Kushner is charged with conspiracy, obstructing a federal investigation and promoting interstate prostitution.