Kean Must Stand Up to Ginty Now

By Steve Adubato, Ph.D. State Senator Tom Kean Jr. is in a very tough spot. He thought he had cleared the way without any opposition in the Republican Primary for the US Senate seat in New Jersey. He thought he was going to get a clean shot at incumbent Bob Menendez, who is doing all he can to act like a well-entrenched veteran US Senator. Tom Kean Jr. thought he could save some money by not having a primary fight and not having to stake out his position on sensitive and controversial issues like abortion and stem cell research, as well as foreign policy and defense–more specifically Iraq. But Tom Kean Jr. didn„t count on John Ginty, a guy virtually no one knows, but who is coming from the far right and clearly intent on making Tom Kean Jr.’s life absolutely miserable. Just look at what happened this past week when former Governor Christie Whitman endorsed Kean for the Senate. Normally it would be no big deal. The moderate Whitman who is on a crusade to save her Republican Party from the far right was expected to endorse Kean. She has a long history with his father, Tom Kean Sr., our distinguished former governor who headed up the 9/11 Commission. But as soon as Whitman„s endorsement of the younger Kean was announced, John Ginty pounced on it saying that Kean should “disavow” the Whitman endorsement. Ginty said that Whitman’s record as governor between 1994 and 2001 was abysmal as she “racked up a miserable record of exploding state debt, ballooning state spending, and waste, fraud and abuse tied to the EZ-Pass project and auto inspection system¦If Tom Kean views Christie Whitman as a model of fiscal rectitude, folks ought to hold on tight to their wallets.” Further, Ginty blasted Whitman on the issue of abortion, which clearly is the cornerstone of his very long-shot candidacy. According to a Ginty press release put out this week; “The most egregious part of Christie Whitman„s meager legacy remains her veto in 1997 of a state law designed to outlaw the brutal practice of partial birth abortion. Against the wishes of the then Republican Majority in the state legislature, Whitman exhibited her militant ‘pro-abortion at all costs’ ideology by vetoing the attempt to make illegal the unnecessary and diabolical process in which a late-term baby’s skull is punctured and its brain vacuumed out prior to removal of the rest of the body from the womb.” You„ve got to be kidding me. Remember, this is Republican against Republican. Ginty finally stuck it to Kean by threatening him if he wants to “reach out to the vast majority of Republicans who support the ban on partial birth abortions” by saying he must disavow the Whitman endorsement. What a nightmare. John Ginty has every right to run for the US Senate. He calls himself an “ideologue” and clearly he is a hard-core conservative on social and moral issues. But New Jersey is a very moderate state and in order for Tom Kean Jr. to win this Senate seat, he must position himself as a reasonable moderate much like his father, who is principled but practical. That is going to be very hard to do with John Ginty consistently calling the younger Kean out and demanding that he make his position clear on hot button, no-win issues like abortion and stem-cell research. Ginty clearly knows he can„t beat Kean and that Kean will be the Republican nominee to take on Senator Menendez. But increasingly, winning is not the game for this small but tightly-knit faction within the Republican Party that is committed to making the lives of moderate Republicans a living nightmare. Tom Kean Jr. says he is not going to debate John Ginty. That„s his right, but I„m not sure it is a smart move. I say take him on. Clarify your position on these and other issues. Do it now so that those who say your positions are unclear will have nothing to complain about later. Take Ginty on as a warm-up for Bob Menendez whose take-no-prisoners, in-your-face, approach to public debating is no place for untested debaters. Yes, John Ginty’s goal may be to galvanize the far-right of the Republican Party and once again sabotage the candidacy of another statewide Republican. But Tom Kean Jr. can turn this all around by taking the Ginty challenge head on right now and showing that he stands up for what he believes, even if what he believes is not always popular with most New Jerseyans. He has a chance to show he is tough, articulate and savvy. That doesn’t happen over night, so why not start now instead of hoping that the John Ginty„s of the world will go away, which they clearly won„t. What else do the Ginty’s of the world have to do other than make life difficult for mainstream Republicans like Tom Kean Jr?

Kean Must Stand Up to Ginty Now