The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has mostly pulled out of New Jersey’s 7th district, leaving two-term Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) to largely fend for himself in his re-election campaign against Republican Thomas Kean, Jr., the New Jersey Globe has confirmed.
With fifteen days left in the 2022 mid-term elections, the DCCC has still not reserved any television time and has spent relatively little money to protect Malinowski, a party loyalist who got the short end of the straw in a new congressional map drawn by Democrats.
Malinowski’s last two polls have shown the race to be tied, first at 48%-48% against Kean, and last week at 47%-47%. It’s never good news when an incumbent is under 50%, especially two weeks out.
As national Democrats claw for every House seat, the move by the DCCC signals that their own polling does not show the race as close as Malinowski says it is. The move comes as groups that offer non-partisan forecasting of House races re giving Kean an edge in his rematch with Malinowski.
But James Singer, a spokesman for the DCCC, pushed back on the idea that they’ve totally abandoned Malinowski.
“The DCCC is committed to re-electing Congressman Malinowski, who has run a strong campaign that has him neck and neck with two weeks to go,” Singer said. “The DCCC has an office in this district and has made significant investments in field and communications to support Rep. Malinowski’s efforts.”
The House Majority PAC, which is allied with the House Democratic leadership, has spent about $1.25 million to protect Malinowski with ads skewering Kean. That includes about $183,000 worth of TV ads this week and $160,000 next week, records show.
National Republicans are spending heavily to flip the 7th, with the National Republican Congressional Committee in for $1.28 million in TV time and the GOP-allied Congressional Leadership Fund spending $3.8 million.
“Resources are allocated on the basis of where they can do the most good,” said Micah Rasmussen, the director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University. “So unless a campaign is far enough ahead in internal polling or cash on hand that an infusion of additional funds won’t matter, a decision to not fund a campaign through Election Day can be viewed as troubling.”
Malinowski raised $7.7 million through the end of September and had nearly $2.8 million cash-on-hand; Kean raised almost $3.6 million and had more than $1.1 million banked during the same time period.
In 2020, Democrats outspent Republicans in the 7th district by a 2-1 margin. Malinowski defeated Kean by one percentage point.
Today, FiveThirtyEight said that Kean, the former minority leader of the New Jersey State Senate, is favored to win the 7th district congressional seat. In a model that simulates the November 8 election 40,000 times to determine who wins most often, FiveThirtyEight says that Kean wins 71 times out of 100.
The Cook Political Report has NJ-7 at leaning Republican; their House race editor, David Wasserman, grew up in Somerset County. Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics also has the Kean vs. Malinowski contest at leans Republican. Last week, Inside Elections moved the Malinowski vs. Kean contest from toss-up to tilt Republican.
A Democratic map approved last December made the 7th district has become more Republican, albeit not unwinnable. The new map’s 7th district is Biden +4, compared to Biden +10 currently. Republican Jack Ciattarelli won the new 7th by thirteen points over Gov. Phil Murphy.
The current 7th district, which includes parts of Union, Somerset, Essex, Warren, Morris and all of Hunterdon, was drawn to elect a Republican congressman. But in the 2018 wave election during President Donald Trump’s mid-terms, Malinowski ousted five-term Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Clinton Township by 16,200 votes.
Both the Malinowski and Kean campaigns declined comment.