Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield) says he has not closed the door to making a deal that could deliver seventeen Republican Senators to help re-elect Senate President Richard Codey (D-Roseland). The problem for Kean is that his caucus is sharply divided over the race for Senate President, and it would be difficult for Kean to deliver the seventeen GOP Senators as a block for either Codey or Stephen Sweeney (D-West Deptford). Sweeney already has commitments from fourteen of 23 Democratic Senators, so he really doesn't need to make a deal with Kean.
What's more, Sweeney is believed to have at least seven votes from the Republican side. Kean can't make a deal if more than one-third of his caucus seeks to stop him.
Sweeney's biggest threat to becoming Senate President could be the election of Republican Christopher Christie as Governor. If Christie, as Governor-elect, wants to play in legislative leadership contests, he could make a compelling argument to Republican Senators to support him. But Christie might have little interest in making Codey, already popular with real voters from his fourteen months as Governor, the most visible Democrat in the state. Instead, he might need to capitalize on the rift between Codey and Sweeney and the possibility that some Senators could be motivated by spite.
Senate Republicans are expected to meet this week to talk about the politics of the Senate Presidency.