Former New Jersey state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. has claimed publicly that he supports abortion rights, but his campaign is privately promoting him as a 'defender of life' who will restrict them.
The campaign website of Tom Kean Jr., a Republican running for the seat in New Jersey's 7th Congressional District held by incumbent Democrat Tom Malinowski, contains a hidden page listing his stances on issues including abortion, education and immigration — issues that are not mentioned on the public website.
The hidden webpage cannot be accessed from any links or navigation on the public site. Gothamist reported on Sept. 18 that Malinowski's campaign was tipped off to the existence of the hidden page by someone who received an email from Kean's campaign containing a link to it.
The entire "Kean Platform" contained on his public campaign website describes his "vision" as: "End wasteful spending to break the back of inflation. Promote American industry to open up supply chains. Support middle class tax relief. Back energy independence to lower gas prices."
However, the hidden page, titled "Tom Kean, Jr.: The Conservative Leader," contains a list of what Kean intends to do if he is elected to Congress. It includes a section called "Protecting Life" that says, "Tom is a fierce defender of the sanctity of life, fighting every step of the way to protect the unborn from egregious abortion laws proposed in New Jersey, and will continue to do so in Congress."
Other sections include "Securing Our Border," which notes that Kean "was a vocal opponent of Governor Murphy's Sanctuary State Policy, opposed funding legal aid for illegal immigrants, and opposed drivers licenses for illegal immigrants. In Congress, he will fight to build the wall, enforce our laws, and secure our border."
The page also provides a list of endorsements that includes, without any comment, unidentified head shot photographs of the top-ranking members of the Republican leadership in the House, Elise Stefanik of New York, the chair of the Republican House Conference; Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California; and Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
The section on abortion would seem to contradict a statement Kean made in June after the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization that overturned the affirmation of a constitutional right to abortion. The New Jersey Globe reported that Kean said then, in response to comments made by Malinowski about Kean's stance on abortion, "I stand with the vast majority of New Jerseyans who believe in a woman's right to choose with reasonable restrictions."
While Kean has said he supports "a woman's right to choose," his actions as a legislator do not align with the claim. During his time in the New Jersey Senate, he consistently voted against funds for family planning facilities in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 even though the measures specified each time that the funds "cannot be used for abortion procedures."
In 2011, Kean co-sponsored a state Senate women's health appropriations bill that would have prohibited any state funding for abortion services.
During his unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign in 2006, the National Right to Life Committee, the oldest and largest anti-abortion organization in the nation, spent more than $30,000 on campaign ads supporting Kean.
In January 2022, before retiring from the state Senate, Kean voted against codifying the right to freedom of reproductive choice in the state of New Jersey. The bill passed in both houses and was signed into law by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy on Jan. 13, 2022.
The Supreme Court has made a radical decision to upend 50 years of settled law that the overwhelming majority of Americans believe should remain in place. ... Fortunately in New Jersey, our legislature passed and Governor Murphy signed a law codifying Roe v. Wade earlier this year. But our daughters, sisters, loved ones and dear friends living, working, and studying in other states will now be at risk. And our law in New Jersey would be eviscerated if a future Republican majority in Congress passes a nationwide abortion ban – which Republicans tried to do repeatedly when they were in the majority before, and have already told us they will try to do again.
That raises the stakes in this election exponentially. I support Roe v. Wade and will do everything in my power to enshrine it into federal law. We must expand the majority in both Houses of Congress willing to do the same.
Malinowski voted in favor of both the Women’s Health Protection Act, which he co-sponsored, and the Ensuring Women's Right to Reproductive Freedom Act, posting on his official website after both passed in the House in July: "The Supreme Court took away the right to a deeply personal healthcare decision for millions of Americans. Today, the House acted to enshrine that right into our nation's laws once and for all, while ensuring that no state can imprison women within its borders to stop them from getting an abortion elsewhere."
In his previous race against Malinowski for the 7th Congressional District in 2020, Kean lost by 1 percentage point. FiveThirtyEight's polling average currently calls Kean "slightly favored" to win in November after the district was redrawn to be more favorable to Republican candidates.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.