A second North Jersey congressman is considering foregoing a re-election bid this year.
A tweet sent out by Rep. Tom Malinowski after the new congressional maps were approved set off speculation that the Somerset County lawmaker may not run for a third term in an election national Republicans have eyed as a chance to flip the House of Representatives.
“The NJ redistricting gods haven’t made it easy for us!,” was the message sent out by Malinowski’s campaign Twitter account. “I’m also incredibly moved by the messages of support we’re getting from so many folks in my current and new district. We will make our judgments with the people who got me here in mind and in the loop.”
New Map Issues
The redrawing of lines made Malinowski more vulnerable in an expected rematch in 2022 with State Sen. Tom Kean, Jr. that saw the incumbent win by a single percentage point in 2020. While the new map was viewed as strengthening the 5th District for Rep. Josh Gottheimer and the 11th for Rep. Mikie Sherrill, it was at the cost of the 7th District being weakened by a map drawn by state Democrats on New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Commission.
Using the most recent Presidential election as a guide, what was a district that was a 10 point win for President Joe Biden, he 7th is now just a four point one after losing towns Malinowski carried solidly in 2020—Millburn, Dover, Union Township, Cranford and Montgomery—versus GOP-leaning Warren County and nine municipalities in Sussex County.
The filing deadline for the race is April 4, 2022 with the primary set for June 7. But the decision to or not to run is usually decided much earlier so that the party can screen candidates as well as allow those choosing to run to get a campaign up and running.
In an interview with North-JerseyNews.com earlier this month when questioned about his reelection chances, Malinowski said he planned to drive home a message that between the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and the Build Back Better Act, Democrats are delivering on their promises to make the lives better for every single middle class resident of Northern New Jersey.
“We moved this country from insurrection to infrastructure in less than a year and that’s a good record to run on,” the Congressman said at that time. “The message from voters that I am hearing is that it’s great we kept all of our promises from 2018 and 2020 but it is not enough. My hope is that voters will trust the people who kept their promises to keep the next set of promises.”
Besides a tougher map, Malinowski realized the issue of stock trades that he has made in office would be the centerpiece of any campaign. A report from the Office of Congressional Ethics on Oct. 21 confirmed Malinowski “knowingly failed” to enter reportable Periodic Transaction Reports (PTR) transactions into the online reporting system in accordance with STOCK Act deadlines.
But it was an issue he was ready to take head on and attack Kean on.
“I am actually going to take questions from voters unlike my opponent (and) I will say that I screwed up in filing some of my reports late, I owned up to it, and paid a late fee,” said the Democrat who formerly served in the Obama Administration. “I also went way above and beyond what the law requires by setting up a completely blind trust for savings that I have invested.”
“My opponent lives off the stock market and his family trusts, was buying and selling throughout the pandemic, not just healthcare stocks but Chinese stocks, has no blinds trust,” he alleged. “And on top of that, he takes campaign contributions from company’s he invests in. So if folks want to make that an issue, I am more than willing to compare and contrast.”
Focus on Kean Jr.
Even in his tweet that raised questions about his future, Malinowski took aim at Kean as he stated “I’ve only ever won hard races, and my likely opponent has only ever lost them—for good reason….I’m at my best with nothing to lose,” he tweeted. “Meanwhile, I will continue to fight to defend our democracy & deliver for New Jersey the infrastructure, tax relief, and progress DC Republicans oppose.”
If Malinowski were to exit the race, he would be the second North Jersey congressman to bypass a chance in 2022. Rep. Albio Sires confirmed last week that he would not seek a ninth term as a member of Congress. Local and state leaders have coalesced around the candidacy of Robert J. Menendez, the son of the U.S. Senator, to run for the spot in the House once held by his father.