Rev. Phil Rizzo has deleted a reference to New Jersey’s 11th district from his Twitter profile, adding to speculation that he will run in the 7th district instead.
Rizzo announced his bid for to challenge Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) in December, but two Republican sources have confirmed that he was still deciding if he’ll switch districts and attempt to run against Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes).
As of Monday morning, Rizzo had dropped “Candidate for NJ CD11” from his profile and replaced it as “Candidate for Congress.” He has not changed his filing with the Federal Election Commission.
Congressional redistricting made the 11th more friendly to Democrats – Gov. Phil Murphy won 52.4% in the new 11th district last year – while Murphy took just 43.7% in the new 7th.
If Rizzo flips to the 7th – his hometown of Harding remains in the 11th under the current map – that would put him in a GOP primary against Tom Kean, Jr, the front-runner and the outgoing minority leader of the New Jersey State Senate. Three other Republicans are also seeking the chance to take on Malinowski: Fredon Mayor John Flora, businessman John Henry Isemann, and former U.S. Food and Drug Administration official Rik Mehta.
That would put three former statewide candidates in a House primary: Kean challenged U.S. Senator Bob Menendez in 2006 and Mehta was the GOP nominee against Cory Booker in 2020.
A businessman and pastor, Rizzo sought the Republican nomination for governor in 2021. He lost to Jack Ciattarelli by more than 23,000 votes, with Ciattarelli becoming the first challenger in more than 100 years to sweep all 21 counties in a Republican primary.
Another Sherrill opponent, former Republican National Committee staffer Thomas Toomey, dropped his 11th district bid last week and announced that he would challenge House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. in NJ-6.