Republican leader won’t seek reelection to New Jersey Senate

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Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean Jr. will not seek reelection to the New Jersey Senate, capping a 20-year-long career in the state Legislature.

His retirement possibly sets up a rematch in the 7th Congressional District, a race Kean lost two months ago.

Kean was elected to the state Assembly in 2001 and two years later was named to the state Legislature’s upper house. In 2008, Senate Republicans unanimously elected Kean as Senate Republican leader, and he will serve out his term in the post.

“Public service will always be a part of who I am and how I live my life, but after thoughtful discussion with my family, I have decided not to seek re-election for the State Senate in the 21st legislative district,” Kean said in a statement.

“It has been an honor to serve these communities and I will always cherish the countless friendships and memories we have made together,” Kean added. “I am committed to continuing a bipartisan approach as a leader throughout the remainder of this term and will work every day to deliver solutions for my constituents.”

In November, Kean, the son of former Gov. Tom Kean Sr., narrowly lost his bid to oust 7th Congressional District incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-New Jersey.

“New Jersey has no finer public servant than Tom Kean Jr, who has fought relentlessly for good government, bipartisan agreement, and policies that benefit every day New Jerseyans throughout his distinguished career,” NJGOP Chairman Michael Lavery said in a statement. “We wish him the best in whatever comes next, and thank him for his service to our state.”

As a state lawmaker, Kean championed job creation, growing New Jersey’s economy, protecting animals and clean air and supporting the disabled community.

“When he leaves office next January, Tom Kean, Jr. will have represented his North and Central Jersey constituents for 20 years in both the State Senate and Assembly,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement. “He has ably carried on the legacy of service that runs deep in his family. We wish Tom all the best as he transitions out of the State House and to a new chapter.”

The Malinowski for Congress campaign team seems to believe Kean will seek a rematch.

“Senator Kean announced today that he is giving up serving his constituents in the middle of a pandemic and economic crisis, so he can spend more time advancing his political career without the distraction of public service,” Insider NJ quoted Malinowski for Congress spokesman Benji Schwartz as saying.

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