The new Keans

A new political dynasty is being built in Essex County, headed by Congressman Donald Payne. Payne’s brother, William Payne, is the Assemblyman from the 29th district, and his nephew, Craig Stanley, is the Assembyman from the 28th district. His son, Donald Payne, Jr., was elected to the Essex County Board of Freeholders in 2005 — Democrats dumped incumbent Albertus Jenkins from the organization line to make room for him. Payne’s cousin, Phil Thigpen, is the Essex County Democratic Chairman. Now, Bill Payne’s son-in-law is eyeing a bid for public office: Wilfredo Benitzez, a Montclair attorney, reportedly wants to replace Democrat Joseph Brennan as the Essex County Surrogate. There was some talk of dumping Brennan, a former West Orange Councilman, in 2001. Since backing winners in hotly contested races for Mayor of Newark and Essex County Executive in 2002, Payne has emerged as one of the most powerful Democrats in Essex County.Other New Jersey political dynasties: Kean: John Kean served in the Continental Congress; two of his great-grandsons served in the United States Senate — John Kean and Hamilton Kean. Hamilton’s son, Robert Kean, was a ten-term Congressman and Robert’s son, Thomas Kean, was Governor. State Senator Thomas Kean, Jr., aka Tom Kean, son of the former Governor, is seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senator. Frelinghuysen: Frederick Frelinghysen served in the Continental Congress and was New Jersey’s first United States Senator. His son, Theodore Frelinghuysen, served in the U.S. Senate and was the Whig Party candidate for Vice President in 1844, running with Henry Clay. His nephew and adopted son, Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen, was a U.S. Senator and served as Chester Arthur’s Secretary of State. His nephew, Joseph Frelinghuysen, was a United States Senator, and his great-grandson, Peter Frelinghuysen, was an eleven-term Congressman. Peter’s son, Rodney Frelinghuysen, currently serves in the U.S. House of Representatives. Karcher: State Senator Ellen Karcher is the fourth generation of her family to serve in the New Jersey Legislature: her father, grandfather and great-great uncle were Assemblyman. Her mother is currently a Councilwoman in Princeton. Hughes: Richard Hughes, a former Governor of New Jersey and Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, is the father of Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes, former Morris County Prosecutor and gubernatorial candidate Michael Murphy, and Federal Magistrate John Hughes. His father was a Superior Court Judge. Littell: State Senator Robert Littell’s father, Alfred Littell, also served in the State Senate, and his daughter, Alison Littell McHose, is an Assemblywoman.

The new Keans