Kean will not seek reelection to state Senate — but is expected to again challenge for House seat in 2022

State Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean Jr. announced Monday that he will not seek reelection. But he may not be done with politics.

Kean (R-Westfield), who lost by 5,311 votes, just over 1%, in his bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-7th Dist.) in the U.S. House of Representatives last November, told the New Jersey Globe of his plans, but did not say if he intends to challenge Malinowski again in 2022.

Most feel Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) will now run for Kean’s Senate seat.

Kean, who will serve out his term in the 21st Legislative District as leader of the Senate Republican caucus, spoke only about the past in a statement released Monday afternoon.

“Public service will always be a part of who I am and how I live my life, but, after thoughtful discussion with my family, I have decided not to seek reelection for the state Senate in the 21st Legislative District,” he said. “It has been an honor to serve these communities and I will always cherish the countless friendships and memories we have made together. I am committed to continuing a bipartisan approach as a leader throughout the remainder of this term and will work every day to deliver solutions for my constituents.”

Kean, the son of former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, was lauded by Gov. Phil Murphy.

“When he leaves office next January, Tom Kean Jr. will have represented his North and Central Jersey constituents for 20 years in both the state Senate and Assembly,” Murphy said. “He has ably carried on the legacy of service that runs deep in his family. We wish Tom all the best as he transitions out of the State House and to a new chapter.”

Kean was elected to the General Assembly in 2001 and quickly developed a reputation as a leader in ethics reform. Two years later, Kean was named to the upper house of the state Legislature.

Kean was nominated and selected for the inaugural class of the Rodel Fellowship program by the Aspen Institute, where he finished a program for young public officials focused on ethics and responsibilities of public leadership. Kean was named one of only 40 state leaders from the entire nation to be recognized as a Toll Fellow by the Council of State Governments for high achievement and service to state government.

In 2008, his peers unanimously elected him Senate Republican Leader. During his time in the Legislature, Kean has focused on long-term strategies for an affordable state and growing the way to a better future. He has been a champion of job creation, finding innovative solutions to grow the economy, protecting animals and clean air, and providing support for the disabled community.