Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) has likely won his race against State Sen. Minority Leader Tom Kean (R-Westfield), the New Jersey Globe projects.
Malinowski leads Kean by 28,412, 55%-45%, mainly through margins he racked up in Union (14,334 votes) and Somerset (11,340 votes).
Though many votes remain uncounted in Morris County, Malinowski leads Kean there by 802 votes.
Kean holds a lead of 512 votes in Warren County, and he’s up by 1,334 votes in Hunterdon County.
In Millburn, the lone Essex municipality in New Jersey’s 7th district, Malinowski is ahead by 3,782 votes.
The contest in the seventh district has largely been defined by massive amounts of outside spending hammering both candidates.
Kean’s campaign contested the call, saying it was made prematurely.
“It’s way too early to call this race. We don’t know how many votes were cast on Tuesday,” Kean spokesman Harrison Neeley said. “Every trend and indication leads to heavy Republican turnout in the days leading up to Election day and on Election Day. We’re not ready to call this race.”
The Associated Press also called the race for Malinowski.
The National Republican Congressional Committee and the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC with ties to House Republican leadership, have collectively put a little more than $4.3 million behind ads trafficking a debunked claim that Malinowski lobbied against a national sex offender registry created by a 2006 crime bill during his time as Human Rights Watch’s Washington director.
The ad blitz, which Kean has alternatively kept at arm’s length and embraced, thrust the race into the national spotlight as QAnon, a baseless conspiracy that claims Democrats opposed to President Donald Trump are operating a global child sex trafficking ring, emerged as in issue in the presidential race.
Democratic groups responded in kind. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the House Majority PAC, a super PAC with ties to House leadership, launched $3.8 million worth of ads seeking to tie Kean to President Donald Trump, whose popularity in suburbs has withered since 2016.