New Jersey's Jim McGreevey, who resigned in 2004 as nation’s 1st openly gay governor, seeks to reenter politics

Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, who resigned in 2004 after admitting to having an extramarital affair with a male staffer, announced Thursday he’s running for mayor of Jersey City.

In a video announcing his return to politics after nearly 20 years, the Democrat played a short clip from his August 2004 news conference in which he said he would resign later that year and also spoke his truth, famously telling reporters: “I am a gay American.”

The political bombshell abruptly ended the career of a then-rising star of the Democratic party. It also made McGreevey, however briefly, the nation’s first openly gay governor.

On Thursday, when announcing his intentions to seek the mayor’s office in his native Jersey City, the 66-year-old admitted he’s imperfect and “will always be imperfect.” However, he added, “It’s important to take accountability to do the next right thing.”

McGreevey, who served as mayor of Woodbridge Township for 10 years before being elected as New Jersey’s 52nd governor in 2002, also served as a member of the state’s General Assembly and Senate.

After stepping down as governor, he wrote a best-selling memoir, “The Confession”; obtained a Master of Divinity degree from the General Theological Seminary in New York City; and founded the New Jersey Reentry Corporation, a nonprofit whose mission is “to remove all barriers to employment for citizens returning from jail or prison.”

The video announcing his intentions to return to public service — titled “Second Chances” — features previously incarcerated people who have been helped by the organization, as well as McGreevey’s daughter.

“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,” she said. “His work has taught me a lot about second chances and a lot about people. What’s the point if we just throw everyone away who’s ever made a mistake?”

The 2025 Jersey City mayoral election will be held on November 4, 2025. Earlier this year, Mayor Steven Fulop, a Democrat, announced he would not run for reelection. Instead, he will run to succeed the state’s term-limited Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy.