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Some Kean for Congress history

John Kean was elected South Carolina delegate to the Continental Congress in 1785

By David Wildstein, April 16 2019 5:47 pm

If Tom Kean, Jr. unseats Tom Malinowski next year, he’ll be the first Kean to win a congressional seat since 1956 – and the first in his family to oust an incumbent since 1938.

Some Kean family history, as it relates to congressional campaigns:

* This is the second run for the 7th district House seat for Kean, Jr.  He ran in 2000 when Rep. Bob Franks gave up his seat to run for U.S. Senate but lost the Republican primary by 3,390 votes.

* Tom Kean, Sr. ran for Congress in 1974 when Rep. Peter Frelinghuysen retired.  The Assembly minority leader and former speaker, Kean lost the Republican primary to Millicent Fenwick by 83 votes.  He was elected governor on his second try seven years later and re-elected by a record 70% in 1985.

* Robert W. Kean, father of the former governor, won the GOP nomination for Congress in 1938 by 713 votes against Montclair Commissioner Dallas Townsend.  He defeated freshman Democratic Rep. Frank Towey Jr. in 1938 by 12,118 votes, 55%-41%.  Kean was re-elected nine times before giving up his seat to run for an open U.S. Senate seat in 1958.

* Hamilton Fish Kean, Robert Kean’s father, lost the Republican U.S. Senate primary in 1924.  He ran again four years later and toppled freshman incumbent Edward Edwards, a former governor, by a 58%-42% margin.  Gov. A. Harry Moore beat him 58%-41% when he sought a second term in 1934.

* John Kean, Hamilton Kean’s brother, ran for Congress in 1882 and defeated four-term incumbent Miles Ross, a former mayor of New Brunswick, by a 48%-41% margin.  He lost his seat two years later to former Elizabeth city councilman Robert Stockton Green by a 51%-46% margin.  Green gave up his seat to run for governor in 1886 – he won – and Kean reclaimed his House seat in a 47%-45% win against Democrat William McMahon.  He lost the seat again in 1888, with Democrat Jacob Geissenhainer beating him 52%-46%.

John Kean was the Republican nominee for governor in 1892 but lost the general election.  He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1899 and was re-elected in 1905.  He did not see re-election to a third term.

* John Kean, the great-grandfather of Tom Kean, Jr.’s great-grandfather, was elected to represent South Carolina in the Continental Congress in 1785.  He served two years, and later accepted President George Washington’s appointment as cashier of the Bank of the United States in Philadelphia.

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