Kean-Byrne Dialogues

Provided in collaboration with the Star-Ledger

The Kean-Byrne Dialogue was an extraordinary series of bi-partisan conversations with former New Jersey governors Brendan Byrne (Democrat, 1974-1982) and Thomas Kean (Republican 1982-1990). Initiated by The Star-Ledger in 1995, transcriptions appeared in the paper on a biweekly basis until Governor Byrne’s passing on January 4, 2018. The two former governors covered major issues, events, proposals and personalities affecting New Jersey and the nation. Sometimes they agreed and other times not, but the tone was always civil and respectful.

In granting the column its Journalism Award in 1997, The Washington Monthly magazine wrote: “In monthly ‘conversations,’ the political adversaries and long-time friends take on pressing issues with the unusual perspective of commentators with experience…. Whatever the subject, careful thought and an insider’s knowledge make for original, provoking columns.”

The final entry in the series appeared on January 15, 2018, featuring Governor Kean reflecting on the series and his warm relationship with Governor Byrne.

The Center on the American Governor is proud to make this series more easily available. Governors Byrne and Kean provided a prominent reminder that members of both political parties can come together to discuss complex issues in a friendly manner, clarifying and perhaps bridging ideological and partisan divides to find positive solutions to today’s problems.


January 15 – Final Q&A: Gov. Kean fondly shares how he and friend Gov. Byrne talked politics for 23 years


December 4 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about Trump’s tax reform, Murphy’s agenda; sexual harassment scandals

November 20 – What advice 2 ex-N.J. governors have for Murphy; plus, are Trump, GOP in trouble in 2018?

October 30 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about gov’s race (a surprise); Amazon deal; Trump’s tax plan

October 15 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about Murphy, Guadagno tax plan; fractured U.S. politics

October 2 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about Trump and NFL controversy; NJEA rift with top Dem

September 18– What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about Trump’s environmental cuts; immigration debate

September 4 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about Trump outshining governor race; Confederate statues

August 14 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about Guadagno’s chances; region’s transportation needs

July 31 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about health care debate; Trump’s ‘Made in America’ plan

July 17 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about ‘Beachgate;’ state budget; Trump’s voter fraud claim

July 2 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about GOP health care bill; funding pensions with the lottery

June 18 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about who will be the next gov; Comey, Russian probe

June 5 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about Christie’s legacy, Trump’s climate accord decision

May 19 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about Trump’s lousy week; Christie’s lottery/pension plan

May 8 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about Trump’s tax plan and our property taxes

April 23 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about unused sick pay; railroad repairs; Syria and N. Korea

April 10 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about Trump recent missteps; RU athletics budget

March 13 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about media bias, pension crisis, election the AG

February 24 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about Trump’s media coverage: It’s fair… no it’s not

February 13 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about Trump’s immigration, travel ban; Christie-Guadagno

January 21 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about GOP vs Obamacare; Christie’s opioid epidemic policy

January 2 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about Dems in 2017; Christie’s book bill; income inequality


December 18 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about Christie’s approval rating; Trump’s cabinet picks

December 3 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about Trump’s spending plans; state gubernatorial race

November 20 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say President-elect Trump should do first

November 5 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about Bridgegate verdict; Clinton, Trump’s chances

October 22 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about Trump’s election results talk; race for N.J. Governor

October 9 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about gas tax deal, Bridgegate, Trump, more

September 24 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about N.J. bombings, Bridgegate, Clinton-Trump debate

September 12 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about Trump’s Mexico visit, Christie’s education woes

August 28 – What 2 ex-N.J. governors think about Trump-Clinton polls; Sweeney’s union feud; $15 min. wage

August 7 – What 2 former N.J. governors say about RNC, DNC; Trump-Putin; state roads

July 17 – What 2 former N.J. governors say about Dallas, Clinton emails, Christie’s road crisis

July 4 – What 2 former N.J. governors say about Christie’s school funding, Trump, Clinton VP picks

June 18 – What 2 former N.J. governors say about Orlando, gas tax and pension politics

May 30 – Trump, Clinton are in danger of having lowest positive ratings in history

May 9 – Christie unlikely choice VP choice for Trump, but…

April 25 – Kean & Byrne: ‘Certainly looks like’ a contest between Clinton and Trump

April 11 – Kean & Byrne: Primary upsets in New York could benefit N.J.

March 21 – Kean & Byrne: Senate should give Christie’s Supreme Court nominee a hearing

March 7 – Kean & Byrne: Trump appears unstoppable; compromise needed for N.J. pensions

February 22 – Kean & Byrne: Christie should prioritize vacant Supreme Court seat, pension issue

January 25 – Kean & Byrne: Garibaldi’s legacy, Christie’s harsh words, casinos and more


November 16 – Kean & Byrne: Christie deflecting debate questions to focus on Clinton made political sense

November 2 – Kean & Byrne: Gun bill override no signal of weakening Republican solidarity

October 19 – Kean & Byrne: Based on first debate, Hillary likely to be the Democratic candidate

October 5 – Kean & Byrne: Every presidential candidate should address tax code deficiencies

September 21 – Kean & Byrne: Trump’s popularity reflects voter frustration with today’s politics

August 17 – Kean & Byrne: NJ will never be able to pay public servants enough to ensure they will stay

August 3 – Kean & Byrne: Dick Leone remembered as “extraordinary person” and “valuable asset”

July 13 – Kean & Byrne:  New Jersey’s primary date suits what lawmakers really care about

June 29 – Kean & Byrne:  New Jersey will make its budget deadline — but it won’t be a good budget

June 15 – Kean & Byrne:  Pension ruling gives Christie “short-term victory, but only short-term”

June 1 – Kean & Byrne:  Pumping gas is “one of the few breaks NJ drivers get, and we ought to keep it”

May 18 – Kean & Byrne: Paying pro football teams may not be the best means of military recruiting

May 4 – Kean & Byrne: Searching for “meaningful hope” for those trapped in inner-city communities

April 6 – Kean & Byrne: If Menendez doesn’t resign, he must be wary of conflicts of interest on House votes

March 13 – Byrne & Kean: State’s controversial settlement doesn’t excuse Exxon from pollution clean-up

March 2 – Kean & Byrne: Will we ever fix the state’s pension problem?

February 2 – Kean & Byrne: Gov. Christie’s Iowa speech shows evidence of a positive strategy

January 19 – Kean & Byrne: State of State speech well delivered, but not one of Christie’s best speeches

January 5 – Kean & Byrne: Port Authority reform calls for legislative-gubernatorial compromise


December 22 – Byrne & Kean: Jeb Bush’s announcement unlikely to alter Christie’s 2016 timetable

December 8 – Kean & Byrne: Good candidates discussing real issues will expand voter participation

November 24 – Byrne & Kean: Gas tax might go down easier if attached to comprehensive tax reform

November 10 – Byrne & Kean: Election results boost Christie’s chance for presidential nomination

November 2 – Voting Yes on Public Question No. 2 will protect water, other natural resources: Opinion (Special Editorial)

October 27 – Kean & Byrne on Christie’s ‘minimum wage’ remarks and midterm election prospects

October 13 – Repairing Hudson River tunnels and building another should be a top priority:  Kean & Byrne

September 26 – Raising gas tax may be best option for Transportation Trust Fund:  Kean & Byrne

September 15 – Exploring loopholes for sports betting a bad bet:  Kean & Byrne

August 31 – Why casinos have failed to revitalize Atlantic City:  Kean-Byrne Dialogue

August 11 – Christie’s running for president, no doubt:  Kean & Byrne

July 30 – Lawmakers must allocate more money to protect N.J. environment: Opinion (Special Editorial)

July 28 – Kean & Byrne: Remembering Roe, friend and rival

July 14 – Ex-govs disagree with Christie gun veto: Opinion

June 29 – Trying to untangle NJ’s budget mess: Kean & Byrne

June 16 – N.J.’s budget crisis won’t go away soon:  Tom Kean & Brendan Byrne

May 19 – Raise the gas tax: Tom Kean and Brendan Byrne

May 5 – John Degnan is an excellent choice to lead the Port Authority: Brendan Byrne & Tom Kean

April 14 – Boston Marathon illustrates challenge of changing terror threat: Brendan Byrne & Tom Kean

March 31 – Kean & Byrne: The gas tax, FEMA and a milestone birthday

March 17 – Byrne and Kean discuss Chris Christie, the American Dream and Rachel Canning

March 3 – Byrne and Kean predict no tax cuts … for now

February 17 – Kean, Byrne talk Christie’s 2016 prospects, Newark PD monitor and more

January 20 – Kean & Byrne: Don’t count out Chris Christie for president

January 6 – Kean & Byrne: Bipartisan cooperation needed to make Obamacare work


December 23 – Ask the governors: For Christie, all issues are national

December 9 – Gov. Chris Christie off to a running start: Ask the governors

November 25 – Kean & Byrne: A short look ahead for Christie, N.J.

November 11 – Gov. Chris Christie Will Draw National Spotlight to N.J.

October 28 – Ask the governors: A year after Sandy, some still waiting

October 14 – A former governor’s legacy, forged in bronze

September 30 – Government by crisis: Whose fault is it?

September 16 – In Syria debate, steps toward peace: Kean & Byrne

September 02 – N.J. campaigns have stars (Christie, Booker) but no pizzazz

August 12 – Kean & Byrne: The state will be in good hands with Gov. Guadagno

July 29 – Kean & Byrne: Dragoon lawmakers back for open space tax vote

July 15 – Gov. Christie and NJ’s ‘Radical’ Supreme Court

July 01 – On the Inevitability of Gay Marriage in New Jersey

June 16 – Final Thoughts on Frank Lautenberg

June 03 – Kean & Byrne: Odd couple’s chemistry works all around

May 19 – Kean Byrne: Buono should consider dropping out of race

May 06 – Kean and Byrne: Is Romney event prelude to Chris Christie’s presidential run?

April 22 – Kean and Byrne: Americans want gun legislation

April 01 – Kean and Byrne: The importance of sand dunes and DEP rules

March 18 – Kean and Byrne: Two sides to closing NJ developmental centers

March 04 – Kean and Byrne: Feds’ missteps can’t stop N.J. from going forward

February 11 – Ask the governors: Memories of Hizzoner

January 28 – Ask the governors: The reaction to Time magazine’s “Boss” cover featuring Gov. Christie

January 14 – Ask the governors: How have our national political parties changed?


December 31 – Ask the Governors: Can N.J. kick the can any farther down the road

December 17 – Ask the governors: Can New Jersey get what we need?

December 03 –  Chris Christie unbeatable in 2013?: Ask the Governors

November 19 – Protecting against the next hurricane: Govs. Kean, Byrne weigh in

October 22 – The two former New Jersey governors discuss the bond act, along with news from the presidential campaign trail and New Jersey Transit’s decision to end free rides for non-union employees.

October 8 – The two governors discuss what Obama needs to do next, the youth vote, beach access and stepping away from the spotlight.

September 24 – Budget shortfall Also: Cutting taxes, creating jobs, and dealing with New Jersey’s bond rating downgrade.

September 10 – The two former New Jersey governors discuss the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

August 27 – The following exchange between former New Jersey governors Brendan T. Byrne and Tom Kean took place in a teleconference on Thursday. Higher Ed merger.

August 6 – Govs. Tom Kean and Brendan Byrne also discuss, the confirmation of Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf, the state of the national nominating conventions and the electoral college.

July 30 – Former governors Byrne and Ken discuss N.J. judges’ pensions, gun control in the wake of the Aurora, Colorado shootings.

July 16 – A new study warns overdevelopment may ruin Barnegat Bay.

July 02 – The following exchange between former New Jersey governors Brendan T. Byrne and Tom Kean took place in a Thursday teleconference.

June 18 – The following exchange between former New Jersey governors Brendan T. Byrne and Tom  Kean took place in a Thursday teleconference. Death of NJ’s unofficial historian.

June 04 – Two former New Jersey governors discuss the major issues facing the state. Supreme Court.

May 21 – The two former New Jersey governor’s discuss top issues of the day. Cost of government.

May 07 – Former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean and Brendan Byrne discuss testing for fifth graders, the student debt crisis and a proposed bill to raise New Jersey’s minimum wage.

April 23 – The former New Jersey governors take on issues including leadership at Rutgers University, Mitt Romney’s potential running mate and the future of the presidential campaign.

April 09 – Two former New Jersey governors reflect on two top issues in today’s news, Supreme Court Nominations and Rutgers reorganization.

March 19 – Former N.J. governors Tom Kean and Brendan T. Byrne discuss the late Congressman Donald Payne, as well as Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed tax cuts and the DEP’s new power to waive red tape.

March 05 – Gov. Tom Kean and Brendan Byrne on Chris Christie’s budget, teacher evaluations, shared services, and other key issues.

Feburary 20 – On deck this week: Newark Council salaries, No Child Left Behind, New Jersey’s new Homeland Security chief, the role of the New Jersey Bar Association in vetting Supreme Court candidates, and the 2012 presidential campaign.

Feburary 06 – Former governors discuss gay marriage, Chris Christie’s judicial nominees, the higher education restructuring plan, and the proposed switch from fighting drug with incarceration to treatment.

January 16 – Governors Tom Kean and Brendan Byrne reflect on the late Assemblyman Alex DeCroce’s legacy, the prospect of a vote on an N.J. gay marriage bill, and other key issues.