Sweeney versus Kean
Sweeney, left, and Whelan By Max Pizarro | February 28th, 2013 - 12:46am
| More

NORTHFIELD – The chill between Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) and Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R-21) permeates the Senate chamber, according to Senate sources, setting a ground zero atmosphere for coming legislative elections.

“You can cut it with an ax,” a source told PolitickerNJ.com.

They were never chummy to begin with, sources say – the ironworker from South Jersey and the governor’s son.

But the gap between spud wrench and croquet club has grown in recent weeks.

The ill will – no political secret by now - stems from Sweeney’s irritation over Kean’s plan to target Sweeney in this year’s general election, a devious plot, in the Senate president’s view, hatched by Kean in a break from Senate protocol.

When one of the leaders goes after another leader, there’s a way to do it – usually with a gentlemanly telephone call, a source told PolitickerNJ.com.

This time, that didn’t happen.

Irked by his GOP counterpart’s strategy to run a solid candidate against him, Sweeney continues to lash out at Kean, insisting that the Senate minority leader join him in calling on lawmakers not to take contributions from contractors and subcontractors involved in the state’s rebuilding effort in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

A week before the two men are scheduled to jointly preside over a hearing on controversial Florida debris removal company Ashbritt, Sweeney hounded Kean with an email to the media depicting a milk box with Kean’s picture on the side of it demanding to know the Republican’s whereabouts.

The suggestion is Kean wants to run from Sweeney’s questions concerning his past acceptance of money from Conti, an Ashbritt subcontractor.

Sweeney denied he’s rankled by Kean’s recruitment effort.

“He’s more than welcome to come at me,” he told state Sen. Jim Whelan (D-2) earlier this evening at Whelan’s kickoff event.

A few minutes later, Sweeney said he would spend “whatever it takes” to re-elect Whelan, who’s in a re-election fight with Republican challenger Sheriff Frank Balles.

But a Senate source said Kean’s recruitment of Nikki Trunk assuredly contains a commitment of cash contributions from the Senate minority leader, otherwise she wouldn’t have left her job at the comptroller’s office when PolitickerNJ.com reported on her incipient candidacy.

An internal caucus memo authored by Kean distills his belief that Republicans can win in District 3.

At the very least, a source told PolitickerNJ.com, Sweeney hates the idea of having to spend money on his own re-election effort, money that he should be using to re-elect other senators in battleground districts – conceivably men like Whelan, state Sen. Robert Gordon (D-38) and state Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-1).

“If Steve loses someone because he was spending money on himself, that could make him look bad in the caucus,” the source said. “It could weaken him.

Sweeney blames Kean.

But he’s unwilling to simply play defense, a source said, and Kean can now expect to be assailed by his own LD 21 opponent, a Democrat charged up and ready to keep the minority leader pinned down in Union County.

“Several good candidates are in the mix,” the source told PolitickerNJ.com.

The Back Room

Names on the LD7 GOP bench

In the event that state Sen. Diane Allen (R-7) doesn't run for re-election in 2017, the party has a short list of possible candidates it could field to try to head off either Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D-7) or Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-7).

Read More >

Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: July 29th

  Faced with violent crime wave, Baraka, Fulop and Torres forge three-city partnership JERSEY CITY – And then there were three. That’s what it looked like, at least, when a late-arriving and widely beaming Paterson Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres in cream-colored suit joined political allies Jersey City Mayor Steve...

Op-Ed

The health of New Jersey's women is not Chris Christie's priority

By Linda Stender At his most recent town hall, Gov. Chris Christie accused his predecessors of "monkeying with the math" when it comes to their handling of our state's economy. But as the old saying goes, when the governor points a finger, he... Read More >

Contributors

 The following letter was sent today to Republican state legislators, county chairs, state committee members, and New Hampshire... more »
(7-23-14) Rabner Opinion Keeps “Christie for President” Alive - Gov. Chris Christie’s fight to prevent same-sex marriage in New Jersey ended with Chief Justice Stuart Rabner.... more »
The Perry-Paul Debate is Healthy for the GOP – and for America  The foreign policy debate in the media between prospective GOP Presidential candidates Texas Governor Rick Perry and... more »
(Washington DC)-- Two recent votes on Capitol Hill suggest an overdue and radical departure from our nation's Draconian and costly War on Drugs.  It's a long-overdue discussion (and not just... more »

Quote of the Day

quote of the day

"And here was Christie — a tell-it-like-it-is, straight-talking, no-nonsense Jersey guy — telling about 60 members of the media what he really thought. 'Governor Branstad is a role model for me,' Christie gushed, referring to his 67-year-old counterpart from Iowa."

- The New York Times

Poll

Given another chance, who would you choose to run the county RIGHT NOW?:

Blogroll

Visit the PolitickerNJ.com/resources page for links to the best collection of information on New Jersey state government.

 

  • Polls
  • The best blogs
  • Columnists
  • State election results
  • Assembly election results
  • Local party websites
  • And more.

PolitickerNJ.com/resources