TRENTON – Redistricting casualty state Sen. Sean Kean (R-30) departed the senate today and headed back to the assembly, formally yielding to state Sen. Robert Singer (R-30).
“I’m looking forward,” Kean said of his hallway journey to the lower chamber. “It’s with a light heart and a smile that I leave all of you. You’re all my friends.”
The two men found themselves in a jam-up when redistricting jumbled their districts together. Kean decided to return to the assembly rather than run against the more senior Singer.
“Sen. Sean Kean is not going very far,” said state Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-13). “Senator Kean, you’ll always have the title. All of us look forward to working with you.”
State Sen. Jim Whelan (D-2) likewise paid tribute to Kean.
“The quiet, rock solid values that Senator Kean brings to this job and will take back with him to the Assembly,” Whelan assessed. “We are fortunate he is going down the hall. Perhaps like Senator O’Toole here he will end up back here again, I suspect he will.”
State Sen. Kevin O’Toole lost his seat in redistricting, got dropped to the assembly, then famously forced his way back into the senate after weathering an ugly GOP Primary.
“I have made the transition back and forth twice,” said O’Toole. “This is the coolest job for people like us to have. We can hold our head up high, as you should, Sean, for serving in the legislature. It was difficult when I went back. But then I looked around and said, ‘This is what I was meant to do.’ …Sean, it won’t be long: two, four, six, eight. You’ll be back.”
State Sen. Jen Beck (R-11) recalled that Kean was one of the first people with whom she conferred when she decided to run for the state senate in 2007.
“Hopefully you’ll keep those assembly people under control,” she cracked.
Singer described a friendship that brought the two men together – which redistricting couldn’t tear apart, he insisted.
“I was there when he married his lovely bride,” the veteran said of Kean. “I saw him at his best that night. I’ve developed a close friendship with him. You know, I’m torn. My friend is a fabulous senator. We had a fun election this time because we’re scrappers. Our districts are never easy distrists.