Republican Rosemary Becchi, a former tax counsel to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, has formed an exploratory committee for a possible challenge to freshman Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill) next year.
“I will begin exploring a potential run for Congress in New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District to bring new leadership and new ideas to Washington rather than sending back the same people who keep failing us,” Becchi said in a letter obtained by the New Jersey Globe. “We need leaders who actually want to do something, not be something in Washington. For that reason, I will begin to test the waters.”
Becchi’s announcement that she will consider a run for Congress comes one week after Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield) announced his bid for the Republican nomination. Five of the six Republican county chairman from the district attended Kean’s kickoff, something that might force Becchi to run as an outsider.
“When I look around my community, I realize no one is leading or trying to solve our problems,” Becchi said. “Failed career politicians in New Jersey and in Washington have left us with some of the highest taxes in the nation, ranked as one of the worst places for business, fewer well- paying jobs and an infrastructure system that is crumbling before our eyes.”
Before going to work for the U.S. Senate, Becchi was a staff attorney in the office of the chief counsel of the Internal Revenue Service. She later worked for a top accounting firm, for Citigroup and Fidelity Investments, and has been a partner at two major law firms.
As a potential congressional candidate, Becchi is telling the story of growing up without much money and struggling to pay her college tuition.
“At that moment I had to decide whether I was going to give up, quit school and complain about the setback — or solve my problem,” said Becchi.
She chose to take student loans and grants to stay in school.
“That experience stayed with me. So when the opportunity came for me to create a program that would allow other families to avoid what I did, I knew I had to find solutions to the problems of hard-working families,” said Becchi, who helped author the “529 College Savings Plans” while working for the Senate.
“I knew good policy could change lives,” the Short Hills resident said.
Becchi is the founder of Jersey First, a grass roots economic advocacy group. She says that the affordability of New Jersey is one of her top issues.
“Friends are finding New Jersey so unaffordable that our children are taking off for out-of-state colleges, never to return, and everyone’s retirement plan is to move out of New Jersey to someplace cheaper,” Becchi said. “That’s not the future my husband, Scott, and I had envisioned when we settled here. We settled in New Jersey for one simple reason — family — and not just our immediate family, but the extended family we’ve come to know and love over the years. Friends and neighbors who have shared in the good times and the bad and who have always been there for us in a pinch.”
Becchi now works for Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, a Washington, D.C law and lobbying firm. POLITICO reported last month that the firm raised nearly $300,000 for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Republicans view Malinowski as a top target next year as they seek to regain control of the House.
There are 5,066 more Republicans than Democrats in the 7th, which supported Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election by a 48%-47% margin – a 4,139-vote plurality.
Malinowski beat Lance by 16,400 votes (52%-47%), becoming the first Democrat to win the 7th district seat since 1956.
As a first-time candidate, Malinowski raised nearly $6.3 million – more than double what Lance raised.
Also seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Malinowski is Tom Phillips, a human resources executive from Scotch Plains.