The seventh congressional district’s Republicans picked State Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean (R-Westfield) to face Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill) in November Tuesday.
“Congress is broken and this fall, New Jersey has an opportunity to lead the way on fixing it,” Kean said. “Our country needs to move past the partisan finger pointing and come together around solutions. I know what it takes to bring Republicans and Democrats together and find innovative ways to accomplish big goals like creating new economies and lowering the cost of prescription drugs. New Jersey deserves real leadership and a representative that understands their needs.”
Kean, the son of former Gov. Tom Kean Sr. and one of the most powerful elected Republicans in the state, was all but coronated to be the district’s nominee.
Though he faced two primary challengers, physician Raafat Barsoom and human resources executive Tom Phillips, Kean has long thought ahead to the general election.
He received 85% of the votes counted Tuesday night, while Phillips and Barsoom each received about half the remaining share.
In May, the state senator pushed some local Republicans to denounce Malinowski and other congressional Democrats over provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act that barred some New Jersey counties from receiving federal aid.
The district’s Republican County chairmen were behind Kean when he announced his bid last April, and that early show of support helped push Kean’s one serious primary challenger out of the district.
Rosemary Becchi, a former U.S. Senate staffer who now runs Jersey First, an advocacy organization pushing lawmakers to lower taxes, initially launched a bid in the seventh district, but moved to challenge Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) as part of a compromise that earned her organizational support for her bid there.
The move opened the primary completely for Kean, who was spared a potentially expensive primary ahead of his challenge to Malinowski, who had almost $3 million in his war chest on June 17.
Kean led most other Republican candidates in fundraising, bringing in $2 million through June 17, though he went into the final weeks of the primary with $1.2 million banked.
In either case, Malinowski appears to have prepared himself for the contest.
“I’m thankful, so thankful to all of you who are helping us get this far and for taking that enormous first step in 2018,” he said. “We knew it would be just the first step. We knew it was the trial run for 2020. This is the test. We are ready. We will pass it thanks to you.”
Vote tallies do not include uncounted mail-in ballots received by Tuesday, late-arriving vote-by-mail ballots postmarked by 8 p.m. Tuesday, provisional ballots that won’t be counted for at least a week and mail-in ballots that were disqualified but may be cured at a later date.