Gov. James E. McGreevey (search) answered questions for the first time in public Tuesday about his decision to resign, telling a supportive audience that it was "a process of transformation and prayer."

Since his Aug. 12 announcement that he was gay and planned to step down as governor, McGreevey had refused to answer questions about that decision or the extramarital affair he said was partly the reason behind his resignation.

McGreevey met with workers at a manufacturing plant, touting his administration's record on job training, then briefly answered questions from reporters.

"I made a difficult, yet personal decision to assure that the governor's office and state administration run competently," McGreevey said.

McGreevey, who plans to resign Nov. 15, said he will spend his remaining time in office on high-priority goals such as developing a stem cell research center (search) and ensuring environmental safeguards. His goal, he said, "is to focus on providing a legacy."

The governor offered few specifics about how he came to his decision.

"I had a personal crisis which I attempted to respond to in the most honest way I could," McGreevey said, describing it as "a process of transformation and prayer and understanding."

McGreevey said he had a consensual, extramarital affair with a man he did not identify. Administration sources identified that person as Golan Cipel (search), who served briefly in 2002 as McGreevey's homeland security adviser. Cipel, an Israeli, denied he is gay and insisted that he had been sexually harassed and pressured by the governor.

If McGreevey had resigned by last Friday, state law would have mandated a special election Nov. 2 to replace him. A federal judge has set a hearing Wednesday in a lawsuit that seeks a special election regardless of the earlier deadline.

If there is no special election ordered, Senate President Richard Codey, a fellow Democrat, would serve the rest of McGreevey's term, through early 2006. The state has no lieutenant governor.