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Rep. Josh Gottheimer, right, with former U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman in Bergenfield on October 30, 2018 (NIKITA BIRYUKOV PHOTO)

Gottheimer won’t back Malinowski

Democrat says Problem Solvers Caucus blocks him from campaigning against Lance

By Nikita Biryukov, October 30 2018 7:46 pm

Rep. Josh Gottheimer isn’t endorsing Tom Malinowski. In fact, he’s staying out of the race in the seventh congressional district altogether.

“I can’t get involved in that race because Leonard Lance is part of the Problem Solvers’ Caucus,” Gottheimer said. “I want Democrats to win the House of Representatives, let’s be clear about that. I don’t get involved in that race because we make an agreement. Tom knows too, by the way. He knows. I told him at the beginning, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t get involved in that race.’”

Members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, which Gottheimer co-chairs along with New York Republican Rep. Tom Reed, make an agreement to stay out of each other’s races.

“We agree never to campaign or write a check against anybody else in the caucus,” Gottheimer said. “It’s like heresy, but it shouldn’t be.”

The goal of the bipartisan caucus is to break partisan gridlock in Washington by creating a voting bloc made up of Democrats and Republicans in equal parts that can push through issues that could be tough to swallow politically for a given party.

The caucus’s rule against political friendly fire facilitates that goal, keeping members safe from potentially-costly ad buys from fellow members.

That’s certainly true in Lance’s case. Gottheimer reported having $4.8 million in his war chest in his pre-election filing.

He’s not spent much on the races of the state’s Democratic House challengers, and that might not have been the reality if the Problem Solvers Caucus didn’t exist.

“When we’re working together like we have on so many issues, it’s harder if you think the person next to you is trying to get to you,” Gottheimer said.

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