Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. conceded defeat today to Rep. Tom Malinowski in the race for the U.S. House of Representatives in New Jersey’s 7th district and will not seek a recount in a race that turned out to be a squeaker for the freshman Democratic congressman.
“The votes have been counted in NJ-7 and Tom Malinowski has won this election,” Kean said. “Congressman Malinowski has my congratulations and my commitment for a bipartisan partnership in my capacity in the New Jersey Senate as we both continue to represent New Jersey in difficult times.”
Malinowski now leads Kean by 4,891 votes.
Malinowski who unseated five-term Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Clinton Township) in 2018, was in front of Kean by 28,412 votes on election night.
The race eventually narrowed to 4,327 last Friday evening, but that seemed to be the floor for Malinowski. His margin slowly crawled up by several hundred votes over the next six days and the percentage of total votes, 50.6% to 49.4%, has been the same since Sunday.
The New Jersey Globe projected Malinowski as the winner of the 7th district congressional race on Tuesday night after additional votes were added to the tally from Union County.
Malinowski now leads Kean, 217,005 to 212,114. Some uncounted ballots in Somerset and Warren counties remain, but not enough to give Kean a path to overtaking the incumbent.
“The one percent margin between Rep. Malinowski and myself demonstrates the desire for strong leadership, but also for the need to find bipartisan solutions to the challenges facing our country right now,” Kean said. “Our nation and the people of this Congressional district need to look forward.”
The 7th district had been held by Republicans from 1956 until Malinowski ousted Lance two years ago by 16,200 votes, 51.7% to 46.7%.
“I am proud of the campaign we ran and incredibly thankful for all of our supporters. I am overwhelmed by the amount of time, energy and resources that were invested into my campaign,” stated Kean. “Rhonda and I will be forever grateful for your generosity, support and friendship.”
Republicans expect the 51-year-old Kean to seek a rematch with Malinowski in 2022, when the congressman will presumably seek a third term during President Joe Biden’s mid-term election and without Donald J. Trump on the ballot.
“For someone who was all but counted out on Election Night, Tom Kean has demonstrated all the patience and graciousness New Jersey would expect from him, and that ought to leave voters with good feelings after a contentious campaign should he choose to run again,” said Micah Rasmussen, the director of the Rebovich Institute of New Jersey Politics at Rider University.
As the Senate Republican leader, Kean gets two of the six Republican appointees to the independent panel that will redraw congressional districts for the next election. The other two GOP members will also be named by 7th district residents: Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick and Republican State Chairman Doug Steinhardt.
Malinowski said that the “record turnout is a sign of how seriously we take our civic responsibilities in the 7th District, and is good for our democracy.”
“Voters have sent us a message that they want leaders who will defend our country’s principles, while working together, irrespective of political party, to solve our country’s problems. Our attention must now turn to the work that I know unites the overwhelming majority of us, beginning with defeating the pandemic, helping the individuals and businesses it has harmed, and restoring a strong economy,” Malinowski said. “I look forward to working with the incoming Biden Administration, and with colleagues in Congress on both sides of the aisle, to move our country forward and deliver for New Jersey.”