Republicans this morning put their names to another tour of duty in the leader’s chair for Tom Kean Jr., but at least two of them did so with one caveat: if Gov. Chris Christie doesn’t want Kean again, they would have to stand with Christie.
Sources – including those among the 11 of 16 who affirmed support for Kean in a letter released by the minority leader – said the support was soft absent word from the front office.
The public statements last night of Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) complicated the situation, but the prevailing sense among caucus members was that if Sweeney can’t work with Kean, as he says he can’t, Christie does not want to be hampered by cloakroom shenanigans as he revs up his 2016 plans.
Christie wants the bipartisan narrative preserved to build his national storyline, a source said, and won’t start a fight with Sweeney to protect a Senate minority leader who’s been in the chair for six years and just went 0-5 in his efforts to win a Senate majority.
A source told PolitickerNJ.com that Christie allies were irritated at Kean for insisting on playing in 1, 2 and 3 and saw the GOP loss last night of former state Sen. Pete Inverso by just 1,000 votes as proof that Kean should have allocated more resources to LD14.