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Assemblyman Erik Peterson at anti-vaxx rally December 20, 2021. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Peterson will run for Congress in NJ-7

Republican assemblyman wants to challenge Malinowski

By David Wildstein, January 03 2022 1:09 pm

Assemblyman Erik Peterson (R-Franklin) will seek the Republican nomination for Congress in New Jersey’s 7th district, becoming the fourth Republican to enter the race against two-term Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes).

One of the most conservative members of the New Jersey Legislature, Peterson took a leading role in a protest by GOP lawmakers who refused to follow a new policy that required anyone entering the statehouse complex without showing proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test.

Peterson told the New Jersey Globe that he filed his campaign committee this afternoon and will formally announce his candidacy in the next ten days.

The front-runner for the nomination is outgoing Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr., who came within one percent of ousting Malinowski in 2020.

Last month, Kean was endorsed by seven countywide officeholders in Peterson’s base of Hunterdon County: County Clerk Mary Melfi, Sheriff Fred Brown, and Commissioners Susan Soloway, John Lanza, Matthew Holt, Shaun Van Doren, and Zach Rich

The 55-year-old Peterson has served in the State Assembly since winning a December 2009 special election convention.  He’s a former Hunterdon County Freeholder.

Peterson had threatened to file charges against anyone who attempted to block his access to the Assembly chambers.

Congressional redistricting made the 11th more friendly to Democrats – Gov. Phil Murphy won 52.4% in the new 11th district last year – while Murphy took just 43.7% in the new 7th.

Three other Republicans are also seeking the chance to take on Malinowski: Fredon Mayor John Flora, businessman John Henry Isemann, and former U.S. Food and Drug Administration official Rik Mehta.  Former GOP gubernatorial candidate Phil Rizzo is also considering a switch from the 11th district race to the 7th.

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