An influential public employee union that backed Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) for Congress in 2018 and then Republican Tom Kean, Jr. in 2020 has now flipped back to Malinowski.
The New Jersey State Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association has decided to support Malinowski’s re-election bid in New Jersey’s 7th district.
Kean had won the endorsement last time based on his longtime support of firefighter issues as a legislator, and his service as a former volunteer firefighter.
The union president, Eddie Donnelly, cited Malinowski’s support for repealing the Windfall Elimination Provision, which reduces social security benefits for individuals who earned a pension through a job that didn’t participate in payroll tax withholdings.
Donnelly said that his union had some issues with Malinowski in the last election, including a lack of communication with paid firefighters in his district.
“He took the time over the last two years to fix that,” Donnelly said.
The NJFMBA also endorsed Republican Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Manchester), along with eight other Democrats, including Reps. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown), Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) and Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) and Robert J. Menendez, who is seeking the open 8th district seat.
But the firefighters took a pass on the 2nd district, where Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis) faces Democrat Tim Alexander. The NJFMBA backed Democrat Amy Kennedy in 2020.
This could be a course correction for Donnelly, whose endorsement of Kean hampered his bid for the Democratic nomination for State Senate last year.
After Kean eschewed a bid for re-election to the State Senate to focus on his rematch with Malinowski, Donnelly entered the race to take on Republican Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield), then the Assembly minority leader.
But Donnelly dropped out of the race a few weeks later after some Democratic leaders pushed back on his support of Kean over Malinowski, and for his endorsements of Republicans in other races in recent years. He told the New Jersey Globe that he has no intention of running for office in the future.
Four years ago, the firefighters union endorsed Malinowski over Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Clinton Township). In Donald Trump’s midterm election, Malinowski unseated Lance by five percentage points.