Former New Jersey governor Thomas H. Kean, one of the state’s most revered figures and a mentor to current Republican Gov. Chris Christie, contends that the leadership qualities Christie has shown while in office should give pause to voters nationally, as they begin to size up Christie as a potential president.
“On the one hand, I think he’s got a lot to offer. I think he’s the most able politician since Bill Clinton,” Kean (R) said in an interview with The Washington Post. “On the other hand, you look at these other qualities and ask, do you really want that in your president?”
Kean’s comments come as the current governor is beset by controversy over revelations that officials loyal to Christie engineered closure of part of the George Washington Bridge in September, inconveniencing tens of thousands of state residents in an apparent act of vindictiveness against a local mayor.
There is no evidence that Christie knew of the actions of his subordinates and appointees, some of whom he has since fired. But Kean — who has known Christie since the current governor was a teenager -- faulted Christie for establishing a culture in his tight inner circle in which no one “will ever say no to him, and that is dangerous.” [Keep an eye out for references to "establishing a culture" or "creating an atmosphere."]What is Kean's motive? Last November 7, the Newark Star-Ledger reported:
Republican state Senators, long used to taking orders from Gov. Chris Christie, defied him today and re-elected Tom Kean Jr. to a fourth term as their leader.
Despite a Christie-backed challenge from state Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-Essex), Kean (R-Union) won 10 out of his caucus’s 16 votes as their leader in a reorganization meeting this afternoon — two days after Kean failed to pick up a single seat in the Senate despite a Christie landslide at the top of the ticket.
“I’m honored to again lead the Republican Caucus in the Senate and I thank my colleagues for their overwhelming support,” Kean said in a statement. “The responsibility to my caucus and all New Jerseyans is one I hold with great respect. I look forward to working with Governor Christie, Steve, Vincent and Jon.”
Two sources with knowledge of the negotiations said that Christie pushed for O’Toole as the next minority leader. But Kean wouldn’t address that when he and O’Toole emerged from their Statehouse caucus meeting, both sweating.