Kean to campaign for Senate after Nov. 8

New Jersey state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R) said yesterday that he would begin running in earnest for the Senate seat starting the day after Election Day, which will involve stepping up his fundraising efforts and his public profile.

Kean anticipates that the race will cost between $12 million and $15 million.

He said he has devoted all his energy this year to campaigning for Republican gubernatorial contender Doug Forrester and other Republicans in state-legislative races. Forrester is running against Sen. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.) in the governor’s race. Kean is seeking Corzine’s seat.

Recent polls show Corzine, who won his first term in 2000 with 50 percent of the vote, leading Forrester by eight to nine percentage points.

The election is Nov. 8.

“Starting on Nov. 9,” Kean said, “the focus will change.”

Asked if he has hired any campaign staff from the White House or Capitol Hill, Kean declined to answer. “I try not to discuss [matters that are] still in progress,” he said.

Kean, the son of the popular former New Jersey governor, is the only Republican in the Senate race for now. The younger Kean, in his second term in the state Senate, didn’t specify what role his father would play in the race.

“I anticipate that he will endorse me at least before the general election,” he said.

Democratic Senate hopefuls have held back from formally jumping into the race. If Corzine wins next week, he will appoint someone to succeed him; that person must run for a full, six-year term next year. If Corzine loses, he could run himself or step down.

Three Democratic House members from New Jersey are frequently mentioned as possible successors to Corzine: Robert Menendez, Frank Pallone and Robert Andrews. Corzine has given no indication whom he would appoint to fill his shoes.