If Sue Altman decides to take on freshman Rep. Thomas Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield) next year, she’ll have the backing of a one of the most influential people in New Jersey politics, retired labor leader Hetty Rosenstein.
“Sue Altman would be an amazing candidate and member of Congress,” said Rosenstein, the former CWA state director and a close ally of Gov. Phil Murphy and other top Democratic leaders. “If this happens, I am Team Sue.”
Altman, the state director of New Jersey Working Families, has emerged as a likely candidate for the Democratic nomination for Congress following former Rep. Tom Malinowski’s decision this week not to seek a rematch with Kean.
National Democrats have made New Jersey’s 7th district one of their top targets in 2024 as they seek to regain control of the House.
“I have complete confidence in Sue. She’s going to make decisions based on what she sees as the public good,” Rosenstein told the New Jersey Globe. “You have to have courage and she’s got it. We need people like that.”
A Lambertville resident, Altman was a college basketball star at Columbia University and received two master’s degrees from Oxford. She taught history, coached, worked as a private school administrator, and founded a consulting firm working with non-profit organizations before joining Working Families.
Like Rosenstein, Altman has national contact among progressive Democrats while forging relationships with establishment elected officials and party leaders.
Former State Sen. Raymond Lesniak, 77, a former Democratic state chairman and early supporter of Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign in 1992, is still mulling a run against Kean. While he acknowledged that “nobody’s knocking on my door,” he said he hasn’t closed the door on one more campaign.
Lesniak has put together a pamphlet and website, Leadership by Lesniak, that stakes out policy decisions on key national and global issues.
The 7th district seat was held by Republicans from 1957 until Malinowski won in the 2018 Democratic wave election with 52% of the vote. Kean came within one percentage points of flipping the district in 2020, and after redistricting made the 7th more Republican, won it by three points last year.
President Joe Biden won the current 7th by four percentage points in 2020.