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Thomas Kean Jr.

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Thomas Howard Kean Jr. (/ˈkn/;[1] born September 5, 1968) is an American Republican politician currently serving as Minority Leader of the New Jersey Senate. From 2001 until 2003, he was a New Jersey General Assemblyman, and represented the 21st Legislative District, which includes parts of Union, Morris, Somerset, and Essex Counties. In 2003, he was elected a New Jersey state senator representing the same district, and in January 2008 became Minority Leader of the New Jersey Senate.

Thomas Kean Jr.
Tom Kean, Jr (11-17-18).jpg
Minority Leader of the New Jersey Senate
Assumed office
January 8, 2008
Preceded byLeonard Lance
Member of the New Jersey Senate
from the 21st district
Assumed office
March 1, 2003
Preceded byRichard Bagger
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
In office
April 19, 2001 – March 1, 2003
Preceded byAlan Augustine
Succeeded byJon Bramnick
Constituency21st (2001–2002)
22nd (2002–2003)
Personal details
Thomas Howard Kean Jr.

(1968-09-05) September 5, 1968 (age 50)
Livingston, New Jersey, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Rhonda Kean
RelativesThomas Kean (father)
EducationDartmouth College (BA)
Tufts University (MA)
WebsiteOfficial website

After Governor Chris Christie was reelected in 2013, Christie attempted to remove Kean as Minority Leader, but ultimately failed.[2] Kean was frequently mentioned as a potential Republican candidate for governor in the 2017 New Jersey gubernatorial election, but did not seek the nomination.[3]


Early lifeEdit

Kean was born in Livingston, New Jersey, the son of Deborah (née Bye)[4] and Thomas Kean. He grew up on the family's estate in Livingston.[5]

Kean is a member of the Kean family, one of the oldest and most distinguished American families.[citation needed] His father is Thomas Kean, former governor of New Jersey. His grandfather is Robert Kean, a former Congressman from New Jersey. His great-grandfather, Hamilton Fish Kean, and great-great-uncle, John Kean, were both United States Senators. His grandmother's family are descendants of Peter Stuyvesant, the Dutch colonial Governor of New Amsterdam (now known as New York). His great-grandmother, Katharine Winthrop, was a direct descendant of John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He is also a direct descendant of Thomas Dudley, Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and a signer of Harvard College's charter. His second great-great-uncle was Hamilton Fish, a United States Senator, Governor of New York, and U.S. Secretary of State. He is also a relative of William Livingston, the first governor of New Jersey.[6]

Kean is a graduate of the Pingry School and Dartmouth College and holds a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where he completed doctoral studies ABD in international relations.[7] He was an aide to former Congressman Bob Franks and a special assistant at the United States Environmental Protection Agency in the George H. W. Bush administration. He has also been a volunteer firefighter and a volunteer emergency medical technician. Kean currently resides in Westfield, New Jersey with his wife, Rhonda, and their two daughters.[8]

Political careerEdit

Kean sought the Republican nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, but was unsuccessful. He lost the Republican primary to Mike Ferguson by about 4,000 votes, finishing second in a field of four candidates.[9]

Kean was appointed to the General Assembly, the lower house of the New Jersey Legislature, in April 2001, to fill out the unexpired term of Alan Augustine, who had resigned on March 21, 2001, due to health reasons. He was elected to a full term in the Assembly in November 2001.[10] In the Assembly, he was the chairman of the Republican Policy Committee and served as vice chairman for the State Government Committee.

In March 2003, he was appointed to the New Jersey Senate to fill out the unexpired term of Rich Bagger. In November 2003, he was elected to fill the seat he had been appointed to. In 2004, Kean was elected Senate Minority Whip, a position he held until 2007. He serves in the Senate on the Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.[7]

In the state legislature, Kean has been a proponent of ethics reform in New Jersey government. He was the original sponsor of legislation banning pay to play practices in New Jersey. He has sponsored legislation to streamline government, promote education, protect the environment, and lower property taxes. Kean was one of 24 elected officials chosen as an Aspen Rodel Fellow in Public Service. In 2002, Kean was named one of 40 state leaders from the entire nation to be recognized as a Toll Fellow by the Council of State Governments for high achievement and service to state government. In 2005, the New Jersey Conference of Mayors named Kean as a Legislative Leader. He has also received, for the second year in a row, the Amerigroup Foundation’s Champion for Children award for his advocacy on behalf of children's health issues. He also has been named Legislator of the year by the Fireman’s Benevolent Association and has received a 100% voting record with the National Federation of Independent Business.[11]

2006 campaign for U.S. SenateEdit

Kean was the Republican nominee running for the United States Senate seat vacated by former U.S. Senator and former Governor of New Jersey Jon Corzine, a seat now filled by Corzine's designated replacement, Bob Menendez. Kean was the winner of the June 6, 2006 primary against conservative John P. Ginty, by a 3–1 margin.[12]

He lost the general election to Menendez by a margin of 53.3% to 44.3%. The New Jersey Senate race was the narrowest victory for an incumbent Democrat in the United States.[13]

Kean was endorsed by The Courier-Post, The Press of Atlantic City, and Asbury Park Press.

State SenateEdit

Kean has unveiled a broad proposal to make New Jersey more affordable through budget savings and including long term strategies to provide more property tax relief and prevent toll increases. [1]

Since joining the legislature in 2001, Kean has pushed for comprehensive ethics reform to curb the influence of campaign contributions receiving inflated government contracts.

As a member of the Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee, Kean has focused on chronic disease management as a long term solution to lower healthcare costs.[14] Kean has also promoted a "four point plan" to make New Jersey a leader in alternative fuel development.[15]

In 2004, Kean introduced legislation to prohibit investment of public money in companies doing business in Sudan because of that country's failure to prevent genocide in Darfur and its human rights abuses that include severe restrictions on the freedoms of assembly, association, movement and speech.[16] The bill passed with bipartisan support and made New Jersey the second state in the country to divest from Sudan.[17] Kean has also supported public interest campaigns to end violence against women in Darfur.[18]

Election historyEdit

New Jersey State Senate elections, 2017[19]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Thomas Kean Jr. (incumbent) 37,579 54.7
Democratic Jill Lazare 31,123 45.3
Republican hold
New Jersey State Senate elections, 2013[20]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Thomas Kean Jr. (incumbent) 42,423 69.6
Democratic Michael Komondy 18,517 30.4
Republican hold
New Jersey State Senate elections, 2011[21]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Thomas Kean Jr. (incumbent) 27,750 67.5
Democratic Paul Swanicke 13,351 32.5
Republican hold
New Jersey State Senate elections, 2007[22]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Thomas Kean Jr. (incumbent) 29,795 59.7
Democratic Gina Genovese 20,092 40.3
Republican hold
United States Senate election in New Jersey, 2006[23]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Bob Menendez (inc.) 1,200,843 53.3% +3.1%
Republican Thomas Kean Jr. 997,775 44.3% −2.8%
Libertarian Len Flynn 14,637 0.7% +0.4%
Marijuana Edward Forchion 11,593 0.5%
Independent J.M. Carter 7,918 0.4 +0.2
Independent N. Leonard Smith 6,243 0.3%
Independent Daryl Brooks 5,138 0.2%
Socialist Workers Angela Lariscy 3,433 0.2% +0.1%
Socialist Gregory Pason 2,490 0.1% +0.0%
Majority 203,068 9.0%
Turnout 2,250,070
Democratic hold Swing 3.26%


  1. ^ Felzenberg, Alvin S. (2006). Governor Tom Kean. Rutgers University Press. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-8135-3799-3. From the time James Kean arrived in South Carolina, the Keans took pains to retain the proper pronunciation of their name, which rhymes with rain rather than with green.
  2. ^ Isherwood, Darryl (8 November 2013). "Democrats continue to savage Kean". Retrieved 20 April 2014.
  3. ^ Lizza, Ryan (14 April 2014). "CROSSING CHRISTIE". New Yorker. Retrieved 20 April 2014.
  4. ^ Staff. "WEDDINGS; Dorian Drees, Reed Kean", The New York Times, December 10, 2000. Accessed November 23, 2016.
  5. ^ Chen, David W. "A Kean on the Ballot? What Else Is New?", The New York Times, September 16, 2006. Accessed February 24, 2011. "As he grew up at the family homestead in Livingston, the younger Mr. Kean said he was most impressed with the reception that his father received in the community."
  6. ^ Staff. "10 Things to Know About Tom Kean", The Star-Ledger, April 10, 2015. Accessed November 23, 2016.
  7. ^ a b Senator Thomas H. Kean Jr. legislative web page, New Jersey Legislature. Accessed April 17, 2008.
  8. ^ Chen, David W. "For Menendez and Kean, a Fierce First Debate", The New York Times, June 26, 2006. Accessed March 7, 2008. "Then, a few minutes later, the most dramatic exchange occurred when Mr. Kean sought to contrast his own background and record in Westfield, a wealthy suburb, with Mr. Menendez's in Hudson County."
  9. ^ "2000 Primary Election Results -- U.S. House of Representatives" (PDF). New Jersey Division of Elections. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
  10. ^ Bowman, Bill. "Ex-governor's son swims upstream", Asbury Park Press, September 27, 2003. Accessed April 17, 2008. "Kean, who was appointed to the Assembly in March 2001 upon the resignation of the late Alan Augustine, won re-election in 2001. He was appointed to his 21st District Senate seat earlier this year after the resignation of Richard H. Bagger."
  11. ^ Senator Tom Kean, Jr., New Jersey Senate Republicans. Accessed November 23, 2016.
  12. ^ Unofficial List - Candidates for US Senate - For June 2006 Primary Election Archived 2006-09-22 at the Wayback Machine, dated June 7, 2006
  13. ^ " - Elections 2006". Retrieved 2017-09-27.
  14. ^[permanent dead link]
  15. ^[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ KEAN, Senator T. "S2145". Retrieved 2017-09-27.
  17. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2017-09-27. Retrieved 2017-09-27.
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Official List Candidates for State Senate For GENERAL ELECTION 11/07/2017 Election" (PDF). Secretary of State of New Jersey. November 29, 2017. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
  20. ^ "Official List Candidates for State Senate For GENERAL ELECTION 11/05/2015 Election" (PDF). Secretary of State of New Jersey. December 4, 2013. Retrieved July 4, 2015.
  21. ^ Official List Candidate Returns for State Senate For November 2011 General Election, New Jersey Department of State, December 14, 2011. Accessed June 22, 2012.
  22. ^ Official List Candidate Returns for State Senate For November 2007 General Election, New Jersey Department of State, December 3, 2007. Accessed June 22, 2012.
  23. ^ Official List: Candidates for US Senate For November 2006 General Election Archived 2007-11-26 at the Wayback Machine, New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, Division of Elections, dated December 4, 2006. Accessed September 26, 2007.

External linksEdit