Kean Follows Gottheimer’s Lead

Thomas H. Kean Jr. is in a tough district.

It leans Republican, but not by much. Kean won last year in CD-7 by slightly less than 9,000 votes. Next year, of course, is a presidential year, so the voting landscape will be different.

There are many questions.

Who will the Democratic candidate be? Tom Malinowski on the comeback trail or someone else?

More importantly, perhaps, who will the presidential candidates be?

A lot can’t be controlled, but Kean seems to be taking steps to control what he can.

The congressman said Wednesday that he has joined the Problem Solvers Caucus.

He said in a statement that he joined “to help find solutions for families and businesses in New Jersey. Every day of gridlock in Washington is another day that issues impacting my constituents at home go unaddressed. This Congress needs to lead in a time when partisan gridlock often derails progress. I look forward to working with the Problem Solvers Caucus to find common sense solutions to cut inflation, build a 21st Century economy that promotes innovation and keeps our communities safe.”

The caucus is a seemingly bold attempt to find balance in a very polarized time by striving to attract an equal number of Republicans and Democrats.

Democrat Josh Gottheimer is a co-chair along with Republican Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.

Gottheimer

Other New Jerseyans in the caucus are Democrat Donald Norcross and Republican Chris Smith.

Gottheimer long has trumpeted his caucus membership as evidence he doesn’t view issues through a political lens.

You can probably expect Kean to do the same. There is obvious merit in trying to put partisanship aside as much as possible, but there are also risks.

Left wing Democrats in Gottheimer’s Fifth District long have ridiculed the Problem Solvers Caucus as ineffective and a sign that the congressman is not fully committed to progressive ideas.

With that in mind, it’s worth asking how the MAGA-wing of CD-7 Republicans will react to Kean joining what professes to be by definition a moderate group.

Then again, right wing Republicans are not going to vote Democratic, so that risk may be minimized.

On the other hand, Gottheimer’s caucus membership does nothing to shield him from right wing criticism that he is just another lefty.

There already is a social media group, “Tuesdays with Tom Kean Jr.,” that enjoys linking Kean to far right extremists in the Republican party. Don’t expect Kean’s new caucus membership to change any of that.

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