The contest for the Union County organization line in New Jersey’s 7th district is close, with municipal chairs almost evenly split between Tom Malinowski and Linda Weber. That’s probably the reason for a last-minute attack on Malinowski’s residency.
Attacks on residency is a bi-partisan issue in New Jersey.
* Mikie Sherrill lives in the part of Montclair that is in Donald Payne’s district, but she’s running for Rodney Frelinghuysen’s seat – which also includes Montclair. The distance between Sherrill’s house and the 11th district line can probably be measured in feet, not miles, but Democrats and Republicans consider her geographic challenge as an issue. By June, if she wins the primary, only Republicans will view it as an issue.
* Democrats in the 4th district have spent most of the last twenty years attacking Chris Smith for living in Virginia (he maintains an apartment in Hamilton), but probably wouldn’t have a problem with Sherill.
* And in the district that adjoins Smith’s, Republicans talk about how Andy Kim – a former Obama White House staffer running against Tom MacArthur – recently moved back to New Jersey just to run for Congress. The irony here is that MacArthur, who has emerged as strong advocate for South Jersey, was the mayor of a town in Morris County four years ago before relocating to Toms River to run for Conrgess.
* Steve Lonegan has run in three of New Jersey’s twelve congressional districts. He lost to Steve Rothman in the old 9th in 1998, then moved to Ocean County and ran against MacArthur in the ’14 primary. Now he’s back in Bergen County running against Josh Gottheimer in the 5th. And Gottheimer lived in Washington for years while working in the Clinton White House.
* Mike Ferguson had run for Congress against Frank Pallone in 1998. He was preparing to run again in 2000 when Bob Franks decided to seek a U.S. Senate seat, so Ferguson moved from Monmouth to Union and won the seat. The Democratic candidate in that race, Maryanne Connelly, tried to make Ferguson’s district shopping a campaign issue.
* After redistricting moved Matthew Rinaldo’s hometown of Union out of the 7th district in 1982. Rinaldo won re-election to the 7th district seat, but continued to live in Union — now in the 12th — and kept his district office there. It may be the first time a congressman’s district office was not located in their district. When the courts overturned the map in 1984, Union Township was returned.
A Roll Call story today talked about Malinowski’s ownership of a home in Washington, where he served as Assistant U.S. Secretary of State during the Obama administration. Malinowski grew up in Princeton and recently moved back to New Jersey to take on Leonard Lance, whose family emigrated to New Jersey in 1738.
Malinowski has a fascinating residency story: he is an immigrant with familial ties that go back to politics during the Lincoln presidency. Malinowski emigrated to the United States from Poland at age six, when his mother married Blair Clark, who ran CBS News and then managed Eugene McCarthy’s campaign for the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination – an effort that was ultimately unsuccessful but led to President Johnson’s withdrawal from the race.
Blair Clark’s sister – Malinowski’s aunt – was Anne Martindell, who became involved in politics as part of the McCarthy and George McGovern campaigns and then ousted incumbent State Sen. Bill Schluter in a district that included parts of Mercer, Hunterdon and Morris counties. That was a stunning win for the Democrats in 1973 — the kind of thing that happens in a wave election.
(A classic Martindell story was her response to a statement from an old-time party leader that “women don’t participate in our back-room party meetings because they don’t want to hear four letter words”. Martindell’s response: “That’s a load of shit.”)
Malinowski’s step-father was the son of a federal judge from New Jersey (appointed by Calvin Coolidge), the grandson of a U.S. Senator who served as Secretary of War under Ulysses Grant, and the great-grandson of Simon Cameron, who succeeded James Buchanan in the U.S. Senate and was Secretary of War under Abraham Lincoln. Simon Cameron also lived in Washington before returning to his home state to run for office.
There’s a great story about carpetbagging that comes from John McCain’s first race for the House in 1982. His opponent in the GOP primary, a State Senator named Jimmy Mack, attacked McCain at a debate for just recently moving to Arizona. The response of McCain, who grew up as the son of a Navy officer and spent seven years in a POW camp, was legendary: “I wish I could have had the luxury, like you, of growing up and living and spending my entire life in a nice place like the first district of Arizona, but I was doing other things. As a matter of fact, when I think about it now, the place I lived longest in my life was Hanoi.”
Last thing: a Tweet this morning from POLITICO senior politics editor Charlie Mahtesian nails the issue – “Carpetbagging barely matters anymore in the House. Most places have too many newcomers/transients to care, and in many states computer-assisted gerrymandering obliterated the idea of communities of interest where deep local ties are important.”