New Jersey’s Seventh District Representative, Tom Kean Jr., is facing growing criticism and scrutiny over his allegedly “secretive” voting behavior in a district that played a pivotal role in electing President Joe Biden in 2020. The son of former Governor Tom Kean, who served from 1982 to 1990, is gearing up for re-election in 2024. However, his opponent, Sue Altman, the head of New Jersey’s liberal-leaning Working Families Alliance, is making transparency a key focus of her campaign.
While Kean and fellow Republicans have struggled to nominate and vote for a Speaker of the House, Altman has been relentless in her calls for transparency, accusing Kean of keeping his votes hidden from constituents. When Representative Steve Scalise was a nominee, Kean remained tight-lipped about his support, citing the secret ballot nature of the vote. Altman used this as an opportunity to rally voters, promising, “When I am in Congress, I promise you will ALWAYS know how I voted. I will not keep secrets from our constituents!”
The race for Speaker of the House has intensified, with Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio currently vying for the position. Altman continues to press Kean for his stance, implying that the incumbent representative is not being accountable to the people he represents.
Altman has also found support in her efforts by sharing reporting from CNN’s Chief Congressional Correspondent, Manu Raju. On October 16, Raju noted, “Several members in swing districts won’t say how they’ll vote tomorrow in the speaker’s race. Tom Kean Jr., a freshman from a bellwether NJ district, walked in silence when we asked if he would vote for Jim Jordan.” Altman further criticized Kean, stating, “Clearly, Kean Jr. doesn’t think he needs to answer to anybody except his donors.”
The race between Kean and Altman has drawn significant attention, with former New Jersey Congressman Robert Torricelli describing it as a “premier nationwide matchup.” As Democrats work to secure the House majority, they see the Seventh District as an opportunity to flip a traditionally Republican area. Torricelli pointed out, “This is the kind of district where people think they’re Republicans. But they’re also pro-environment, pro-choice, and culturally progressive.” The district’s unique political dynamics make Kean’s voting behavior even more crucial to voters concerned about the representation of their values and priorities.
In the lead-up to the 2024 elections, Tom Kean Jr. is now under the microscope, as his constituents and political rivals demand transparency in his voting record. Sue Altman’s promise of full accountability in her votes is setting a high standard, leaving the voters of New Jersey’s Seventh District with an important decision to make in the upcoming elections. The battle for this bellwether district is poised to be one of the most closely watched contests, with national implications for the balance of power in the House of Representatives.