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A Kean Interest In Politics

A Kean Interest In PoliticsAs Thomas H. Kean Jr. campaigns in New Jersey for the U.S. Senate, he's out to prove he's more than just a famous political name.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [11.03.06] Thomas H. Kean Jr. comes from a long line of storied New Jersey politicians. But while The Fletcher School graduate has name recognition in his U.S. Senate race this fall, he is relying on his commitment to public service to win him the seat.

"The problem we have today is too many people are running for office because they want to be something," Kean told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "None of them are running for office to do something."

Kean has carved a niche as a moderate Republican, supporting abortion rights and stem cell research—recently, he called for the ouster of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Currently a New Jersey state senator, he is running a close campaign against the incumbent democrat, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez. If he wins, he would be the first Republican to hold the office since 1972.

Kean graduated with a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School in 1997 and is currently completing his doctoral dissertation. After losing a U.S. House race in 2000, he entered the New Jersey state legislature, where one of his accomplishments included the sponsorship of "Clean Car" legislation that established rigorous emissions standards, The New York Times reported. He told the Times that the 2000 loss was "a good thing" since it afforded him the opportunity to gain experience in state politics.

According to the Times, the Senate seat Kean seeks is one previously held by two members of his family: his great-grandfather and great-great-uncle. He comes from a high political pedigree—his grandfather is a former U.S. House representative, his father is a former governor of New Jersey and the family's political history dates back to the Continental Congress, the Inquirer reported.

Kean gained expertise in environmental issues while working at the EPA and later became a congressional aide before entering The Fletcher School. He has also volunteered widely.

"I always knew that I would give back," he told The Washington Post. "My mother and my father both believe you have to work hard and give back. That's why I was a volunteer firefighter, that's why I worked in a homeless shelter. I always knew I'd give back, elective office or not."

If he wins, Kean says he wants to make his name known not as yet another political Kean, but for furthering a sense of collegiality in Congress.

"I think the responsibility of someone in elected office is to try pull people together, is to try to find common grounds," he told the Times. "That’s how I conduct my life."

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