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Tom Kean, Jr. is running against Tom Malinowski
Senate Minority Leader Thomas H. Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield). (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Kean raises $1.2 million for Malinowski challenge

Senate minority leader brings in $302k in 4th quarter

By David Wildstein, January 31 2020 10:03 am

Republican Tom Kean, Jr. has raised substantial $1,240,987 for his bid to unseat freshman Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) in New Jersey’s 7th district.

The minority leader of the New Jersey State Senate, Kean raised $302,921 during the 4th quarter of 2019 — his third strong fundraising quarter since joining the race.

Kean effectively had a huge fundraising boon earlier this month when his primary rival, former U.S. Senate staffer Rosemary Becchi dropped out of the 7th district race and switched to challenging Rep. Mikie Sherrill in the 11th.

With the primary field now cleared – Kean won 99.5% of the vote at the Union County Republican convention this week – he is ow spared the expense of a running a primary campaign, saving his money for the general election.

More importantly, Kean can now attract donors who typically wait until after the primary to begin playing in what is expected to be a nationally prominent House race.

“Thank you to all the supporters that are giving this campaign a voice. This district deserves a representative that has stood with them through good times and bad, and will take our shared values to Washington. Tom Malinowski has a 100% voting record with Nancy Pelosi,” Kean said.  “That is not what the people of New Jersey need.”

Kean had been the clear front runner for the Republican nomination since he announced his exploratory committee last March, two months after Malinowski took office.  He’s won over 250 endorsements from local elected officials and party leaders.

Two Republicans still in the race against Kean, Tom Phillips and Rob Trugman, have demonstrated no political or fundraising support.

Kean has been endorsed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and former Speaker Newt Gingrich.  He is expected to secure organization lines in Hunterdon and Somerset counties over the next week.

Malinowski, a former assistant U.S. Secretary of State, beat five-term incumbent Leonard Lance by 16,200 votes, 52%-47%, becoming the first Democrat to win the 7th district seat since 1956.

As a first-time candidate, Malinowski raised nearly $6.3 million – more than double what Lance raised.  Those totals do not include independent expenditures made for or against either candidate, or spending made by candidates’ political action committees.

During his first year in Congress, Malinowski raised almost $2.4 million and closed the year with a strong $615,000 4th quarter.  He now has more than $2 million in his warchest.

The 7th district has 1,806 more Republicans than Democrats.  When the district was drawn following the 2010 census, there were 29,997 more Republicans.

In 2019, Republican Assembly candidates won the municipalities in the 7th congressional districts by a combined 16,000 votes.  In Somerset County, where Democrats won races for freeholder and sheriff, GOP candidates carried the municipalities in Malinowski’s district.

When Malinowski ran against Lance in 2018, he was helped by the withdrawal of most of his rivals after running the table at county Democratic conventions to win all six organization lines.

Linda Weber withdrew from the race after Malinowski defeated her at a Union County Democratic screening committee by just one vote.  Other rivals, including Lisa Mandelblatt and Scott Salmon, dropped out to endorse Malinowski.

That let Malinowski pivot his focus to the general election while winning 67% of the vote in the Democratic primary against 2016 nominee Peter Jacob and another minor candidate, Goutam Jois.

Hillary Clinton carried the district by 4,139 votes, 48%-47%, against Donald Trump in 2016.  Four years earlier, Mitt Romney won the 7th by 21,033 votes, 53%-47%, against Barack Obama.

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