Senate President Steve Sweeney – after turning back a challenge from attorney Niki Trunk today – focused his attention upon the man who boasted he’d take his job.
Sweeney, (D-3), West Deptford, went after Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. tonight after Kean could not deliver on his prediction that the GOP would capture enough Senate seats to wrest the upper chamber-presidency from Sweeney and give it to Kean.
“He has to explain to his people,’’ Sweeney said at a packed Auletto’s Caterers here. “He spent $1 million against me. I’m glad he did,’’ Sweeney said, adding that had the GOP spent money elsewhere maybe it would have picked up the seats it said it would.
“He has to explain to his 16 (GOP senators) why he didn’t win. When you have a phenomenon like Chris Christie winning by a near record total?’’ said Sweeney.
“All I know is Tom Kean said he had five (seats that the GOP could win). There were a lot of ‘predictions’ about the Senate.”
Sweeney went on. “We picked up two Freeholder seats (in Gloucester) and two townships, Franklin and Elk, both in my district. I’m pretty happy.”
Last month, Kean predicted he would supplant Sweeney as Senate president. He campaigned for Trunk in LD 3, one of the districts the Republicans needed to win if they were to have hopes of eating into the Democrats’ 24-16 advantage in the chamber.
As recently as Monday, Kean claimed that Sweeney was “scared” that Gov. Chris Christie’s romp to re-election would provide coattails for Republican legislative candidates.
The district saw more money coming in than any other legislative district. It came to naught for the Republicans.
Sweeney said that the reason the Democrats maintained legislative control is that voters don’t want Christie to have a rubber stamp on issues such as the state Supreme Court make-up.
Sweeney said his legislative leadership team will remain intact, and he congratulated Sen. Barbara Buono on running a courageous campaign against tough odds.
“I want to congratulate Barbara for running a difficult race,’’ Sweeney said. “The courage she showed, she ran a real hard race.”
Sweeney’s Third District Assembly running mate, John Burzichelli, said that it appeared as if today did not play out like a gubernatorial election year but more like a legislative election year, with some districts appearing to draw out their hard-core base.
The Third Legislative District is comprised of thirty-three townships and includes all of Salem County and parts of Gloucester and Cumberland Counties.