It’s not uncommon for a unsuccessful congressional candidates to find future electoral success. Thomas Kean, Sr. lost a GOP House primary in 1974 and became Governor seven years later; his son, State Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr., lost a 2000 congressional primary and won an Assembly seat a year later.
So here’s a prediction: keep an eye on Thomas Roughnen, the young former prosecutor and Iraq war veteran who is seeking the GOP nomination for Congress in the seventh district. Republican leaders who watch him on the campaign trail say they are impressed; they say he’s smart, well-spoken and charismatic.
The son of blue-collar, Irish immigrants, Roughneen served in the U.S. Army, went to law school, and spent ten years an Assistant Prosecutor in Essex and Union counties. After 9/11, he returned to active military service, where according to his biography, he was the full-time government leader of the Kiruk government province. “Within months we accomplished our mission and turned over the leadership of the Council and Governorship to local Iraqis: Shia’s, Sunni Arabs, and Kurds who had never cooperated with each other before,” Rougneen says. “The team I led even persuaded the village leaders to open the first ever girls’ secondary school in that region.”