One of the more arduous and expensive tasks for a young politician running for statewide office for the first time is gaining name recognition. The task is made orders of magnitude easier if your name just happens to be one recognizable due to your father having been governor. Thomas R. Kean Jr. has announced that he will run for the Senate seat being vacated after John Corzine successfully purchased the New Jersey governorship. Corzine beat Doug Forrester 53/43 so Kean has an uphill battle. Moving 5-6% of the electorate over to the Republican column would be next to impossible for an unknown.
Kean's entry just made the Democrat's lack of money even more troublesome. Corzine spent $63.5 of his own to purchase his Senate seat four years ago. The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee has $19 million on hand at the moment and will probably be fortunate to have $50 million to spend in total for the cycle. The loss of union soft money contributions will hit New Jersey particularly hard because of its heavy unionization.
I do not rate Kean's probability of success in this first go around at higher than 45% but he is going to make many valuable contacts during this campaign and Lautenbergs seat will be up in '08. It is very unlikely that Lautenberg will run in '08 because of age and because serving in the minority suits him even less than it does Corzine. In the '06 run Keating's opponent will be a one year incumbent appointed by Corzine as soon as he takes office. Given the history of New Jersey politics, there is a reasonable chance that Kean's opponent in '06 and/or '08 will come under investigation or be indicted sometime during the campaign.
Kerry only beat Bush by 7% in New Jersey in '04. If Kean's opponent doesn't have good statewide name recognition and the DSCC doesn't have enough dough, this could be a very interesting race.
** Thanks to Jedrury for catching an error.
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