In late October during the gubernatorial campaign, former governor Thomas Kean did an ad for Doug Forrester, highlighting Forrester’s “moderate, pro-choice” credentials. A Republican pro-choice group endorsed him, conservatives were furious, and some even called for not voting for Forrester.
Now it’s Kean Jr’s turn to walk the same tightrope of appeasing his radical base while playing to the state’s socially moderate/liberal population. He’s already failed. Wally Edge writes that pro-life organizations are about to endorse John Ginty in the primary:
Dan Clark, the President of the New Jersey Republican Pro-Life Coalition, said that Kean might not be able to secure the support of pro-life voters, even in the general election. “The problem Tom Kean has with pro-life, conservative voters right now is bigger than just a possible primary challenge. Tom Kean’s committee vote to support human embryonic experimentation last December seems to have been the catalyst for John Ginty’s candidacy. Before that vote, Tom had cleared the primary field and kept conservative critics at bay. Kean’s vote was perceived as a big poke in the eye to the party’s pro-life base and the chatter among activists began to find a challenger. Believe it or not, there are people who claim to be pro-life activists who want to see Tom Kean lose to pro-abortion Bob Menendez in November. Tom Kean gave these activist mouthpieces a huge club to beat him over the head with from now until Election Day. Whether John Ginty ultimately files and runs, Kean’s problem with pro-life, conservative voters will remain because of this vote.”
This is the worst possible news for Kean Jr. As Wally notes, Junior “is scared to death of John Ginty.” It’s no surprise then that he caved in to BCRO chair Guy Talarico – even after telling the opposing ticket that he would not abandon them.
Kean Jr was hesitant to back the slate of the ineffective Talarico since he needs to have the strongest Bergen County party possible. But Talarico had threatened to run someone else on the line if Junior didn’t take the party column – and soon. Afraid of a challenger, Kean Jr finally caved in to Talarico and took the party line.
Rather than fight for the strongest party organization possible, he took the easier route of bowing to Talarico and avoiding a primary challenge in the county. Which led Democratic strategist Julie Roginsky to raise an important question about his leadership: “If Tom Kean can’t stand up to Guy Talarico, how’s he going to stand up to George Bush and Dick Cheney?”