Jim McGreevey, the former New Jersey governor who publicly acknowledged he was gay and admitted to an affair before stepping down nearly 20 years ago, announced Thursday he will campaign for mayor of Jersey City in 2025.
“This election isn’t about yesterday or my yesterday. This election is about our tomorrow and our future. And clearly, I’ve made mistakes in my life and for which, you know, I’ve acknowledged and I apologize. But I also think, God willing, that I can give something back,” McGreevey said Thursday at an event kicking off his campaign.
McGreevey, a 66-year-old Democrat, was elected in 2001 as New Jersey governor. In 2004, he resigned, announced that he was gay and admitted to having an extramarital affair with a man, CNN previously reported.
“And so, my truth is that I am a gay American. And I am blessed to live in the greatest nation with the tradition of civil liberties, the greatest tradition of civil liberties in the world, in a country which provides so much to its people,” McGreevey said during a news conference at the time.
The former governor launched his campaign Thursday at a Dominican café owned by a man who was granted clemency after serving more than two decades in federal prison. The owner, Candido Ortiz, received help from the New Jersey Reentry Corporation, a nonprofit led by McGreevey that works with people after they are released from prison and helps connect them with jobs, housing and other resources.
McGreevey told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on Friday that the last 20 years have changed him, describing his younger self as a “young man in a hurry.”
“I never thought I would say this, but it was a blessing to have traveled the road I traveled because I’m very different,” McGreevey said on “The Source.”
The former governor also noted the US electorate’s changing attitude around sexuality in the years since his resignation.
“It’s miraculous,” McGreevey said, reflecting on how he once thought he was doing “the right thing” by hiding his sexuality. For young people now, he said, it’s “no big deal.”
The incumbent Jersey City mayor, Steven Fulop, is not running for reelection next year, opting instead to seek the Democratic nomination for governor.
In a campaign video, McGreevey, who served as mayor of Woodbridge Township before becoming governor, asked people to give him a second chance.
“I’m imperfect and I’ll always be imperfect. 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,” McGreevey said in the video.
“When my grandparents came from Ireland, they were looking for a second chance, a new opportunity. And that’s what, God willing, this campaign is all about, is a new opportunity for Jersey City,” he said in the video.
This story has been updated with additional information.
CNN’s Piper Hudspeth Blackburn contributed to this report.
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