Kean’s Ongoing ‘Closed to the Press’ Campaign Slog

Tom Kean

Tom Kean Jr. may say some riveting things tonight about public education.

So riveting they have to be behind closed doors.

Kean, the Republican candidate in CD-7, arguably one of the most competitive districts in the country, has put together a Back to School event featuring a Parents Voice Coalition for Thursday evening at a hotel in Liberty Corner, Somerset County. The event is set to run from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

It is closed to the press.

Schools, or more accurately, what gets taught in schools these days, has become a big issue across the country, especially for Republicans who see a pronounced left wing bias in today’s curriculum. Fueling the debate locally are new state health standards that critics say are introducing sexually explicit topics to young children.

Kean already has weighed in.  He condemned the state standards during a Fox News interview a few months ago and has claimed that his opponent, incumbent Democrat Tom Malinowski, doesn’t want parents involved with their children’s education.

One of the movers behind Thursday’s event is Daniel O. Croson Jr., a school board member in Warren Township.  On his Facebook page, Croson proclaims that parents should “support the only candidate in this race who has always fought for parents to have a voice in their child’s education.”

Croson, who said he’s expecting a crowd of between 30 and 40, credited then state Senator Kean for standing up against heavy-handed school mandates coming from Trenton. He acknowledged in a phone conversation that Congress has little to do with local education, but said it’s important to have federal officials who agree that public schools are a community concern. He said Kean would be that type of official.

Given the fact, a supportive crowd at the event is probably guaranteed, it seems odd that it’s off-limits to the press. Kean, after all, is a candidate for Congress.

Then again, maybe not that odd.

The Kean campaign apparently is doing all it can to keep the candidate away from reporters and in some ways, the public at large. Kean seems to have few, or no, public events. The Kean campaign didn’t explain why the school event is closed to the press.

The contrast with Malinowski is striking. Over the last two weeks or so alone, Malinowski has had a number of public events throughout the district. Some were official congressional events; others were purely campaign appearances. But in all cases, the public attended and at times, made challenging – and not always laudatory – comments. Moreover, Malinowski has a “town hall” scheduled for Saturday in Summit.

It’s debatable, of course, if the so far different campaign styles of the candidates will have any impact with average voters, On the other hand, it’s hardly a stretch to suggest that a man running for Congress should engage with the public, not just supporters in a controlled setting.

As stated, Kean may indeed have some meaningful things to say about public education. But like a tree that falls in a forest with no one around, not many voters are going to hear them.

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