Response by Rick Thigpen
In less than two months, Senator Menendez has significantly improved his standing with the voters. Since January, his solid record of accomplishment representing New Jersey in the United State Senate has increased his name recognition and solidified his Democratic base. Tom Kean, Jr. now faces the twin challenges of having to unseat an incumbent Senator while reversing the political dynamics that have prevented any Republican from winning a Senate contest in New Jersey in a generation.
We all look forward to Tom, Jr. telling the voters what kind of Washington Republican he intends to be. Many have tried and all have failed at the task now before him. Recent history makes it clear it will take a moderate "Tom Kean Republican" to compete effectively for the independent swing vote. But he also needs to lock up the other essential component for his success, the conservative Republican base. Poor Tom, Jr., he just has to take consolation in the fact that if it was easy, anybody could do it.
If Senator Menendez continues to perform well in the Senate, and George Bush and crew continue to remind New Jerseyans that Republican is a four letter word on the national level, then Tom, Jr. will be swimming upstream this fall.
Comment by Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind Academic Associate, Rick Thigpen (J.D., Columbia University Law School). Rick is a former Executive Director of the New Jersey Democratic Party and now a partner in The Strategy Group and is a campaign coordinator for the Essex County Democratic Party. Rick Thigpen, Esq. can be reached at (609) 394-0888.