Home>Congress>Kean declines to comment on pushback to Richter district swap

Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Kean declines to comment on pushback to Richter district swap

By Nikita Biryukov, January 30 2020 1:01 pm

Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean declined to comment on pushback to David Richter’s district swap from a growing number of Republican women and a handful of Republican county chairs Thursday.

“I’ll call you back later on that issue,” he said, clarifying that he would return a response by noon Thursday.

The New Jersey Globe received no such response, and a 12:07 p.m. call and voicemail seeking comment went unreturned. Kean was first asked about the swap in person at 10:30 AM.

Richter, once the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in the second congressional district, was pushed out of the lead following Rep. Jeff Van Drew’s defection to the Republican party.

On Monday, Richter announced he would instead challenge Rep. Andy Kim (D-Marlton) in the third district, where former Burlington County Freeholder Director Kate Gibbs was leading the field.

Gibbs has the organizational line in her home county, though Ocean County Republican Chairman Frank Holman has yet to back a candidate.

Though no formal endorsement has been issued, Richter’s swap appears to have the backing of the White House.

Bill Stepien, a top advisor and former political director to President Donald Trump, has signed onto Richter’s campaign as a consultant, and the House candidate was allowed to give a speech at Trump’s rally in Wildwood Tuesday, which Gibbs also attended.

Richter’s switch was engineered largely to clear the primary field for Van Drew, who would likely emerge victorious in such a contest, which would likely carry a large price tag.

The swap has drawn criticism from some Republican women, who said Gibbs “should not step aside for anyone.”

It’s unclear what Kean, who had his own primary field cleared after Rosemary Becchi swapped her bid to the 11th congressional district, thinks of the matter.

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