There’s no guarantee that either Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) or Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield) will be their party’s nominee for the 7th congressional district this year; Malinowski hasn’t yet confirmed he’s running for re-election, and Kean has to get through a potentially competitive Republican primary first.
But on Twitter, both candidates are already behaving as though the general election contest has arrived, trading barbs this morning over former President Donald Trump and Malinowski’s House Ethics Committee probe.
In response to a tweet from Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) asking whether Republicans are loyal to the Constitution or to Trump, Malinowski tweeted, “As I head to DC for the commemoration of the attack on the Capitol, I don’t need to wonder which of these choices my perennial opponent @KeanForCongress would make. He’s already decided. It’s sad to see such a fine family legacy sacrificed to personal ambition.”
Asked about Malinowski’s attack, Kean for Congress campaign manager Dan Scharfenberger did not address the looming anniversary of the attack on the U.S. Capitol, but came out swinging against Malinowski’s own stock trading and redistricting troubles.
“After his own party took the lead on both throwing him under the bus in redistricting and extending an investigation into his illegal stock dealings, Malinowski’s last resort is to smear the majority political party of NJ-7,” Scharfenberger said. “That’s what desperate politicians do. Will Tom Malinowski ever change? I won’t hold my breath.”
Appearing on Fox and Friends this morning, Kean himself similarly focused on Malinowski’s Ethics Committee inquiry, which has yet to deliver a verdict, and castigated the congressman as a party-line vote.
“Tom Malinowski can’t defend his own record,” Kean said. “Every single thing that has gone wrong in Washington D.C., he’s been a part of that. He’s voted with Nancy Pelosi 100% of the time, and then when you look at what he’s specifically done, he’s violated the STOCK Act. He broke the law.”
Kean lost to Malinowski in 2020 by only one percentage point, and under the new district lines approved late last year, the 7th district has grown substantially more Republican. But while Kean might be the favorite for the seat if he becomes the Republican nominee, he first has to get through a primary against Assemblyman Erik Peterson (R-Franklin) and a number of other candidates.