Not bad play for a Republican candidate operating in a decidedly Democratic environment. It helps that he carries the name of a politically powerful New Jersey family. It helps even more that Democratic incumbent Bob Menendez is battling charges and an overall image of corruption. And it certainly doesn't hurt to get this type of attention just two weeks before the election. From the New York Times article:
To admirers, Mr. Kean, 38, has matured into a thoughtful and attentive lawmaker, distinguishing himself in ethics, environmental protection and health care. Hardly doctrinaire, he has espoused positions that are moderate, though clearly more conservative than those of his father, former Gov. Thomas H. Kean. And he has demonstrated political grit in a surprisingly ferocious campaign to unseat the incumbent, Robert Menendez, in what national Republican leaders believe is probably their best chance to capture a Democratic Senate seat.From the Washington Post profile:
Kean's political lineage includes a grandfather who served in Congress for 20 years, as well as a great-grandfather and a great-great-uncle who both served in the Senate. Theodore Roosevelt is a relative, too. And Tom Kean Sr. occupies a hallowed place in the state's history, widely viewed as a man of rectitude who, at least for a few years in the 1980s, restored pride to the state.It's hard to know just how these two high-profile stories managed to hit on the same day. Kean does have a chance to score what would seem to be one of very few election victories for the GOP so it's not as if they're coming out of thin air. Still, there's probably some back-slapping going on in the Kean camp today.