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« Mark Your Calendars | Blog Home Page | Obama Leads In Iowa »

Kean Not Running

That was quick. Earlier today, we reported that New Jersey Republicans initially pointed to State Sen. Tom Kean as a potential candidate to replace retiring Rep. Mike Ferguson. Late today, Kean sent out a statement thanking Ferguson for his service and saying he would not seek the seat, instead focusing on his new duties as Republican Senate leader.

A knowledgeable Republican strategist says Assembly Republican Whip Jon Bramnick becomes the front-runner with Kean out of the race. Bramnick was said to be considering a Senate bid against incumbent Democrat Frank Lautenberg, but a race for Congress would seem to be more appealing. PolitickerNJ reports on Republican sources saying Kean will support Bramnick as he moves toward a bid.

Linda Stender, the Democrat who lost to Ferguson by just two points in 2006, has a preliminary name identification and fundraising edge on Bramnick, making the race difficult for Republicans. But one interesting wrinkle: The GOP source said a top staffer for Rudy Giuliani promised Republican leaders in New Jersey that, should the former mayor of the neighboring metropolis get the GOP nomination, their state would be targeted in 2008.

Regardless of whether Giuliani can win the state -- and his campaign believes they can -- the influx of staff and advertising dollars would likely carry a trickle-down effect, helping Republicans at all levels and, the party would hope, boosting their nominee to replace Ferguson over Stender. While former Governor Tom Kean Sr. today announced he would back John McCain, Giuliani has at least one prominent backer connected to Bramnick: His New Jersey state chairman is Tom Kean Jr.