Thomas Kean, Jr. has been elevated to the National Republican Congressional Committee to the highest level of GOP congressional candidates in the “Young Guns” program, a designation that opens the door to Kean accessing national campaign contributions and support in his bid to unseat Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) in New Jersey’s 7th district.
Kean, the minority leader of the New Jersey State Senate, is the only New Jersey Republican to make the list.
“As we move closer to Election Day, these candidates have shown they stand in stark contrast to their Democratic opponents and have the structure in place to come out victorious in November,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
The 7th district race is considered among the most competitive in the state.
Malinowski, a former Assistant U.S. Secretary of State in the Obama administration, became the first Democrat to win the seat since 1954 when he ousted five-term incumbent Leonard Lance (R-Clinton Township) by 16,2000 votes in the 2018 mid-term elections.
During his first fifteen months in Congress, Malinowski raised $3.33 million and has $2.67 million cash-on-hand as of his April filing with the federal election commission.
Kean has also posted strong fundraising numbers as a challenger, raising $1.75 million since announcing his bid for Congress in April 2019. He has $1.14 million in his warchest.
At the same point in his 2018 campaign, Malinowski had reported raising $1,097,683 and had $739,944 cash-on-hand.
After the first quarter of his 2018 re-election campaign, Lance had raised $1,108,529 and had $849,998 banked.
“Having the support of the NRCC elevates this campaign and I am thankful for their commitment to earning better representation for New Jersey,” Kean said.
Voter registration in New Jersey’s 7th district has now flipped to a Democratic majority. As of last month, the 7th had 1,248 more Democrats than Republicans. When it was drawn in 2012, the 7th had 29,997 more Republicans than Democrats. On General Election Day 2018, the GOP registration edge had shrunk to 6,709.
Kean faces nominal challenges in the July 7 Republican primary from physician Raafat Barsoom and human resources executive Tom Phillips.
“New Jersey needs to send a leader to Congress that will shake up the gridlock and actually put their communities at home before the marching orders of party bosses,” Kean said. “Our message is resonating, and I am proud to be recognized by a diverse coalition of supporters as a very serious candidate in New Jersey’s 7th congressional district.”
Four other New Jersey Republican House candidates are on the entry level of the NRCC “Young Guns” list: David Richter and Kate Gibbs in the 3rd, Frank Pallotta in the 5th, and Rosemary Becchi in the 11th.