McGreevey, a Democrat, revealed last week he had engaged in a homosexual relationship and announced he would quit his post Nov. 15. Pressure mounted, however, for McGreevey to leave office earlier and Republicans began looking for a candidate of their own.
If McGreevey resigns by Sept. 3, a special election would be called.
Kean, who served two terms as governor in the 1980s, said he was focused on his work as chairman of the presidential commission looking into the causes of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack and would not get back into politics. But state Republican leaders, who fear the likely candidacy of U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine for the Democrats in a special election hope Kean will enter the race.
The former governor "is generally seen as the only Republican who could run competitively with Corzine in a short campaign." New Jersey state Sen. Joe Kyrillos, the state GOP chairman, and Kean have traded phones calls but the former governor remains reluctant to re-enter politics.
Other options, state GOP sources say, are state Sen. Tom Kean, who would run with his father's backing, and businessman Doug Forrester, who lost a 2002 race for U.S. Senate after Democrats engineered the last minute substitution of former U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg for ethically challenged incumbent Robert Torricelli.