Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield) might have to make a big decision at the end of the year: does he want to run for Senate President in 2011 or United States Senator in 2012. The conventional wisdom is that it’s hard to do both. Republicans need to pick up four Senate seats to take control next year. For Kean, legislative redistricting, candidate recruitment, fundraising, and administering a statewide campaign operation could be a full-time job. Conventional wisdom is that anyone who wants to take on Democrat Robert Menendez in 2012 would need to spend all of 2011 raising money. Can Kean raise money for Senate Republicans and for a federal account at the same time?
Kean ran a competitive race against Menendez four years ago, and has grown considerably as a candidate since then. Republican insiders say he is anxious for a rematch, especially if the national political environment were to be more GOP friendly than it was in 2006. But the president’s approvals going into the next presidential campaign is just one of the things that affect Kean’s political future. He needs the new legislative map to create more competitive districts (and possibly a new Republican seat in a part of the state that has gained population), and he needs the new GOP Governor to be popular.