Tom Kean Jr. often tells members of the press it’s nice to see them.
Yep, that is what politicians are wont to do.
The problem is that people expect a bit more from a congressman.
Kean has become infamous for not communicating with the press or public – something that began during the 2022 campaign.
A year ago, that may have been prudent, at least from a cynical perspective. His reconfigured district – the 7th in northwest Jersey – skewed slightly Republican and as long as GOP voters turned out in reasonable numbers, he had a good chance of winning,
That’s precisely what happened. Kean ousted Democrat Tom Malinowski by about 9,000 votes.
But now he’s a congressman, and to use a civic textbook lesson, his job is to represent all the people, not just the Republicans who voted for him.
That includes telling the public – through the press if necessary – his views.
Observers of Congressman Kean are accustomed to his silence and his practice of putting his “public” appearances on social media after the fact. This most recently happened when Kean spent some time walking around the business district in Chester.
Now, Kean’s custom is getting some national attention.
With the House in a dither over electing a new Speaker, Kean is refusing to say who he supports.
Here’s a tweet last night from Manu Raju of CNN:
“Several members in swing districts won’t say how they’ll vote tomorrow in speaker’s race. Tom Kean Jr., a freshman from a bellwether NJ district, walked in silence when we asked if he would vote for Jim Jordan.”
Kean has said the same, which is nothing, to other reporters. And his office has not responded yet to a question about his thoughts on the Speaker’s race.
It is worth noting that the two other Republican House members from New Jersey, Chris Smith and Jeff Van Drew, have given their views. They both support Jim Jordan.
The description of CD-7 as a “bellwether” district is accurate. In other words, it’s going to be a close race. This has been true since 2018 when Malinowski was first elected.
This does make it somewhat risky for Kean to back a man like Jordan, who is so much a part of the MAGA wing of the Republican party.
Risky or not, he should tell voters what he plans to do.
The House may indeed vote Tuesday afternoon on a new Speaker.
Kean, at long last, will have to give his opinion.
And that will be nice to see.
Kean wound up voting for Jordan, thereby going with the GOP establishment.Jordan didn’t get enough votes on the first ballot to win, so a second ballot looms.Now he will – presumably- have to do it again.