The Tipping Point Races: Menendez v. Kean

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Republican candidate Tom Kean Jr. is running against Democratic Senator Robert Menendez in the state of New Jersey.

New Jersey: Robert Menendez (D) v. Thomas Kean, Jr. (R)

The Senate race here has been close, even though the state's voters lean Democratic, strongly oppose President Bush and the war in Iraq and the incumbent is a Democrat himself. The Republican challenger has moved to the left on some key issues, even calling for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to resign, but his success has mostly stemmed from having the right last name. Thomas Kean, Jr., is the son of Thomas Kean, who was governor of New Jersey for much of the 1980s, more recently the co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission and remains a revered figure by voters in both parties.

The race has become a bit of a proxy war, as Democratic incumbent Bob Menendez seeks to link Kean to President Bush and the Republican Congress, while Kean has relentlessly portrayed Menendez as part of a Democratic Party in the state that has been involved in numerous corruption scandals. Menendez, a longtime member of the House who was appointed to this Senate seat earlier this year after his predecessor Jon Corzine became New Jersey Governor, has also tried to cast the boyish-looking Kean, who has been in New Jersey state legislature since 2001, as too inexperienced for the job. If Kean wins, it will be very difficult for the Democrats to win control of the Senate.

Winner: Menendez

NEXT: Ford (D) v. Corker (R)