TRENTON, N.J. – Sen. Jon Corzine (search) said Wednesday that he will not actively seek to run for governor in a special election, dashing hopes by some state Democrats that he would help pressure Gov. James E. McGreevey (search) to resign earlier than planned.
Corzine said McGreevey has assured him that he intends to serve through Nov. 15, in which case a special election would not be held.
The Democratic governor gave that resignation date last week, when he announced he is gay and had an affair with another man. He said he would resign because the affair left his office open to threats.
"The governor made clear in our conversation his absolute intent to serve until Nov. 15, 2004. I accept that decision as final," Corzine said in a statement.
Some Democrats had joined Republicans in urging McGreevey to resign before Sept. 3, the cutoff date for holding a special election to complete the governor's term, which ends in January 2006.
In a one-sentence statement, McGreevey thanked Corzine for his support: "I appreciated Senator Corzine's decision and his consideration for my position and for the well-being of my family."
Corzine, however, is not completely ruling out a run for governor if McGreevey unexpectedly resigns before Sept. 3, according to a source close to the senator who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Corzine is "keeping his options open for 2005" and would consider a campaign if a special election were held, the source said.
Corzine is a Wall Street multimillionaire who has become an important fund-raiser for Democrats nationally. Fellow Democrats considered him to be a formidable candidate, but Corzine's statement could make it easier for McGreevey to stay in office until November.
If McGreevey does not resign by Sept. 3, the remainder of his term will be filled by state Senate President Richard J. Codey (search).
The New Jersey governorship has been called the most powerful in the country because there is no lieutenant governor and the governor appoints his entire cabinet.
Also Wednesday, a major contributor to McGreevey pleaded guilty to charges including tax fraud and witness retaliation.
McGreevey was not implicated in the charges against real estate mogul Charles Kushner (search), who had been under federal investigation for about three years.
Prosecutors said Kushner hired a prostitute to have sex with his brother-in-law, William Schulder. Prosecutors said Kushner had the sex act videotaped and a copy of the tape sent to his own sister, Schulder's wife, who also was cooperating in the investigation.
The aim, prosecutors said, was to retaliate against the family members for cooperating with the government in the case.
U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie said Kushner faces 11/2 to 2 years in prison and fines. The plea deal does not require Kushner to cooperate with investigators.
Kushner has a connection to Golan Cipel (search) — the man who, according to sources close to McGreevey, had an affair with the governor.
Kushner sponsored the work visa that allowed Cipel to come to the United States from Israel and gave him a $30,000-a-year job in public relations with one of his companies.
Cipel maintains he is heterosexual, and has denied McGreevey's claims and accused the governor of sexual harassment.
McGreevey appointed Cipel as New Jersey's homeland security adviser in 2002, an appointment that was criticized because of Cipel's inexperience and because as a non-citizen he lacked federal security clearance.
Cipel was reassigned from the $110,000-a-year job a few months later. He left government soon after.
Kushner's attorney said his client had no contact with Cipel "for several years."