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Rep. Tom Kean Jr. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

DCCC puts Kean on initial target list

Van Drew not seen as top target after 2022 blowout

By Joey Fox, April 03 2023 11:33 am

In what will come as no surprise to anyone following New Jersey politics, Rep. Tom Kean Jr. (R-Westfield) was named to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC)’s initial Districts in Play list, a set of 33 Republican-held or open districts that Democrats consider to be highly competitive in 2024.

“Tom Kean Jr. has spent his short time in Congress enabling far-right extremists, defending Kevin McCarthy, attacking abortion rights, voting for out-of-touch culture war legislation, and supporting GOP efforts to toy with the full faith and credit of the United States in order to force a MAGA agenda,” DCCC spokesperson Tommy Garcia said in a statement. “If Kean is unwilling to defend New Jersey values in Congress, voters will vote him out in 2024.”

Kean flipped the 7th congressional district last year, beating Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) in a contest that attracted millions of dollars from both sides. Malinowski had narrowly beaten Kean in 2020, but after congressional redistricting made the 7th district more Republican, Kean was able to win their rematch by three points.

The district still voted for Joe Biden by four points, however, and virtually everyone expects Kean to be in for another tough fight this year. Malinowski is still mulling whether to aim for a comeback, while several other Democratic candidates are waiting in the wings if he decides to pass.

Missing from the DCCC’s list is another New Jersey representative with a history of winning competitive races: Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis), who represents the 2nd congressional district in South Jersey. Van Drew won his 2022 contest by 19 points after outside groups ignored the race, and there doesn’t seem to be much hope among Democrats of taking him down this year, either.

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