Jim McGreevey stares intently into the distance as the clip of his resignation of governor of the state of New Jersey is played.
“One has to look deeply into the mirror of one’s soul and decide one’s unique truth in the world,” he states in the video clip from that fateful day, Aug. 12, 2004. “My truth is that I am a gay American. I engaged in an adult consensual affair. It was wrong. It was foolish. It was inexcusable. I accept total and full responsibility for my actions; I have decided the right course of action is to resign.”
It was a bombshell moment in New Jersey politics. But it was not the final political moment for McGreevey, then a rising star from Middlesex County.
McGreevey went to the seminary and came out a changed man. He is the founder and chair of New Jersey Reentry Corp., an organization that helps those who have been incarcerated rejoin society. To get a second chance, he has said.
Thursday in Jersey City, McGreevey formally asked for his own second chance – in politics that is – announcing that he is a candidate for mayor.
The announcement was not a surprise. It has been anticipated for months.
McGreevey started the day with the release of a 3:17 video that addressed the biggest issue of his life.
“I’m imperfect and I’ll always be imperfect,” he says on the video. “It’s important to take accountability to do the next right thing. It was painful, but I would not have traded anything that I’ve experienced. It’s made me a better person, more compassionate.
“A lot of the guys and gals that I work with come from difficult circumstances. They don’t always have schools that work, the opportunities.”
McGreevey said his campaign will be about increasing opportunities for the residents of Jersey City, particularly when it comes to housing.
“I was coming out of my parish, and there was an Army veteran and he said, ‘Jim, I want you to look at those buildings. I can’t afford to live in any of them. Neither can my children or my grandchildren. I’m going to move out of here,’” McGreevey said he said.
Then came his campaign talking point.
“If Jersey City becomes unaffordable for the people who built this, something’s terribly wrong,” McGreevey says on the video. “We have this great asset in our development, but we have to keep our city affordable.
“I want to make sure that Jersey City works for my daughter, and for her generation. So that Jersey City is about opportunity for working families, people who want to give back and make the community better.”
McGreevey’s daughter plays a key role in the video.
“When I think about my dad, it’s not the scandal or what happened, but just how much he does and how hard he works and how much he cares,” she said. “I’m incredibly proud to be his daughter.”
She said she valued seeing what type of person her father has become.
“His work taught me a lot about second chances, and a lot about people,” she said. “What’s the point, if we just throw everyone away who’s ever made a mistake?”
McGreevey ends the video with his ask.
“I want to make sure that Jersey City works for my daughter, and for her generation – so that Jersey City is about opportunity for working families, people who want to give back and make the community better and give a darn,” he says.
“Jersey City isn’t about just us, it’s about what we give to it and what we build. Together we build a better community, build a better city. And that’s the campaign I’m asking you to join.”
Second chances are central to who I am.
My name is Jim McGreevey. I served New Jersey as Governor.
Now, I am running to be the Mayor of Jersey City. I hope you’ll join me. pic.twitter.com/qDs5oGOtsC
— Jim McGreevey (@jim_mcgreevey) November 9, 2023