The possibility that Democrats will nominate Bernie Sanders as their candidate for president today became an issue in the hotly contested 7th district congressional race between freshman Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) and Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean (R-Westfield).
Malinowski told the Associated Press that he would “absolutely” support Sanders in the general election against Donald Trump.
Republicans jumped on that.
“Tom Malinowski’s support for Bernie Sanders’ radical socialist agenda will raise New Jersey voters’ taxes exponentially, eliminate their choices and proves Malinowski is completely unfit to represent this district,” said Michael McAdams, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Kean’s campaign also slammed Malinowski, who has endorsed Joe Biden for president, although they fell short of mentioning Trump in their statement.
“Congressman Malinowski has been trying to fool New Jersey voters into believing he is a moderate from the moment he moved into NJ-7 to run for office,” said Theresa Winegar, Kean’s campaign manager.
For the Democrats, the race will be a contrast between Malinowski standing up to Trump and Kean supporting him.
“Congressman Malinowski has shown consistently that he’s willing to stand up to Donald Trump, and that he’s willing to stand up to people in his own party when he disagrees with them,” said Daniel Fleiss, Malinowski’s campaign manager. “Those are two things that Tom Kean has never done, and never will.”
But while Malinowski said he’d back Sanders if he had to, he also said that Democrats should nominate a candidate who can win a general election.
“Why we would risk this extraordinary opportunity by nominating somebody who has a tendency to divide our own side is beyond me,” the AP quoted him as saying.
Malinowski has been critical of Sanders in recent weeks, including his statement in this week’s presidential debate that “”authoritarianism of any stripe is bad, but that is different than saying that governments occasionally do things that are good.
“Stalin doubled literacy in the Soviet Union, even as he murdered tens of millions of people,” Malinowski said on Twitter. “Apologists for dictatorship – Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia – always say ‘they do some bad things, and some good things.’ It’s a way of making them seem just like us. It’s utterly wrong.”