The race in the seventh congressional district is tightening, though Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) still holds as sizeable lead over Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean (R-Westfield).
Malinowski now leads his challenger by 17,483 votes, 53%-47%. He was ahead by 28,412 votes on election day.
The gains came across all of the seventh district’s seven counties, though the largest gains were made in Hunterdon and Somerset.
Kean leads by 7,992 votes in Hunterdon, up from 1,334 on election day. In Somerset, the congressman’s lead has dropped by 2,067, though he still holds a sizeable 9,273-vote advantage there.
In Warren, the challenger’s lead is up to 1,874 votes. He was ahead by 512 on election day.
Malinowski’s leads have remained stable in Union and Essex County. He leads by 14,323 in Union and by 3,703 in Essex, 79 votes less than on Tuesday. The Union County margin is 11 votes slimmer than it was on election day, though the county still has many ballots outstanding.
While it’s unclear exactly how many outstanding ballots there are in Union, the county’s election board has only counted ballots received through Oct. 27.
Morris County is making its tallies at a similarly glacial pace, though the numbers there are more promising for Kean than they are in heavily Democratic Union County.
The challenger now leads in Morris by 20 votes. Election Day totals had Malinowski up by 802 votes there. More votes are due to be reported out of the county later Saturday.
The challenger’s campaign insisted Kean was still in the running when the Associated Press called the race on Tuesday, citing voting trends that appeared to favor Republicans.
They stood by that stance Saturday.
“Every vote needs to be counted in this election before victory or defeat are claimed. The theory was that things would tighten as ballots were counted. They are counting ballots as they are received,” Kean spokesman Harrison Neely said. “We know from tracking ABEV reports there was heavy Democrat turnout out front and heavy Republican turnout on the back end.”
The New Jersey Globe has not called the race, although Malinowski is still the likely winner.
Malinowski’s team declared victory following the AP’s pronouncement, and they’re not backing away from that either.
“We all have to be patient and trust in the democratic process, but we’re confident that when the votes have been counted Tom Malinowski will be re-elected,” Malinowski campaign manager Dan Fleiss said.