McGreevey's Job Approval Rating Climbs Following Confession

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:30 PM EDT

(Correction: Fixes inconsistent spelling of McGreevey)

( - Not only did New Jersey Democratic Gov. Jim McGreevey not plunge in the polls upon announcing that he had conducted an extra marital affair with another man, his public approval ratings actually jumped two points.

Meanwhile, the other man at the center of the year's most stunning sex scandal has denied that he is a homosexual. Golan Cipel, who is accused by members of McGreevey's administration of trying to extort millions of dollars from the governor in exchange for silence, told an Israeli newspaper that, "It doesn't bother me that it is said I am gay, but I really am not. I'm straight.

"On the other hand, to accuse me of being an extortionist? Someone here has lost his mind," Cipel reportedly said.

McGreevey's approval rating jumped from 43 percent two weeks ago to 45 percent last week, according to a Newark Star Ledger/Eagleton-Rutgers poll conducted Thursday and Friday.

The poll provided "the first snapshot based on initial impressions of the news as it was coming out to people," said Patrick Murray, acting director of the Star Ledger/Eagleton-Rutgers poll.

McGreevey's improved rating is not statistically significant, Murray said, but is important because the announcement that the governor was resigning from office in the aftermath of the homosexual affair did not spark a dramatic drop in his public support. The poll results "quite clearly reflect the initial reaction ... of the electorate," Murray added

"New Jerseyans are very tolerant of people with different lifestyles," he told , "and they are able to separate what one does in their private life with what their public life is."

But still developing allegations that McGreevey gave Cipel, his alleged paramour, a taxpayer-funded position as Homeland Security Director for New Jersey could have an impact on the approval rating.

Murray said his group saw the poll numbers "start to move" late in the process "as people Friday evening started hearing more about the background of the story."

Brian Nelson of the New Jersey Republican State Committee agreed, saying that the poll was taken before any of the "real scoop" started coming out. "I'm sure if you took a poll today it would be very different," he told .

In the interview with the Israeli newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, Cipel accused McGreevey of constantly hitting on him. Cipel said he told McGreevey that he planned to sue him for sexual harassment and that a financial settlement was being discussed when McGreevey resigned last week.

Nelson said the Republican state committee has received more telephone calls, e-mails and donations than he's ever seen after McGreevey's press conference Thursday.

"There's a serious public outcry here regardless of what the Eagleton poll says," Nelson said.

Murray told that no follow-up polls are currently being conducted, but that the group "will be monitoring the situation."