The last time Tom Kean Jr. had a telephone town hall, he was criticized for not telling many people about it in advance.
This time, the congressman gave almost 24 hours advance notice for a town hall Monday evening.
That was different.
Quite candidly, however, the rather abbreviated 45-minute town hall produced no provocative or critical questions.
Did anyone other than me think it odd that the CD-7 congressman was not asked about Donald Trump’s latest indictment?
One does not know how the questions were screened, but the results were a series of supportive comments.
As he has done previously, Kean offered strong support for Ukraine. That is not as cut and dry as it seems. A number of Republicans in recent months have criticized what critics say is a “blank check” for Ukraine.
The most consequential congressional action of recent vintage was the debt ceiling agreement, which Kean backed. Again, this was not legislation universally loved by all Republicans. Most Republicans in the Senate, for example, opposed it.
Kean defended the agreement as a good exercise in bipartisanship, adding that it “protected Social Security.”
The congressman also spoke of energy legislation passed by the House to stimulate oil production. This was very much symbolic verbiage, given the fact the bill has no chance to pass the Senate.
Oil prices will continue to be a Republican issue. That’s understandable, but it is also true that gas prices at the pump are more than a dollar cheaper than a year ago at this time.
The congressman was also asked about “congestion pricing” and agreed with just about all New Jerseyans that this is a “money grab” by New York City and state.
The meeting host also asked listeners to vote with the telephone keypad on a number of questions.
Probably the most interesting one going forward had to do with Kean town halls.
Just how should they be held? In person, via Zoom or by phone?
In the world of CD-7 politics, this is a big issue.
Tom Malinowski, the man Kean unseated last fall, had by his count more than 100 town halls or public meetings with residents during his four years in office. Most were in-person and many were lively as questions were unscreened.
Democrats and Malinowski himself said during the campaign that part of serving in Congress is unfiltered discussion with voters.
That would suggest that poll respondents will endorse in-person town halls.
Then again, it all depends on who was listening in.
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