New Jersey Republican Tom Kean Jr. is eyeing a 2022 repeat match against Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski after losing narrowly in 2020.
Kean, 52, reportedly started calling New Jersey Republicans on Thursday to discuss his campaign plans. A campaign announcement is expected on July 14.
Kean, the minority leader of the New Jersey state Senate and the son and namesake of a popular former Republican governor, last lost to Malinowski by a margin of just over a 1 percentage point.
Kean would be a familiar name on the ballot. He first ran for the House in 2000, about a decade after his father, Thomas Kean, finished up two terms as governor. The younger Kean lost in the Republican primary to Mike Ferguson, who would go on to be a House member for eight years.
He tried again in 2006, running in a more Democratic district. But he lost in a strongly Democratic year.
And, though Kean came close to winning in 2018, the 7th Congressional District still has a Democratic tilt. President Joe Biden won New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District over then-President Donald Trump, 54% to 44%.
Still, House Democrats in 2020 lost over a dozen seats. Republicans now need to flip only five districts in November 2022 to take the gavel the following January.
Malinowski, 55, a former assistant secretary of state in the Obama administration, defeated 10-year Republican Rep. Leonard Lance in 2018 by 16,100 votes. But Malinowski is having a more difficult second term in office.
An ethics complaint was filed against the New Jersey Democrat over failing to disclose up to $1 million in more than 100 stock trades related to medical companies involved in the pandemic response.
Malinowski conceded that he made a “mistake” by not disclosing this information but denied benefiting from any insider information, and he said the trades were done by an outside financial adviser.
Nevertheless, a Republican super PAC aligned with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy launched an ad campaign in early June targeting Malinowski’s stock trade troubles, which is expected to run for several months.
One open question about a Malinowski-Kean contest is just what the district will look like. The northwestern New Jersey district, one of the 10-most affluent in the country, is set to undergo redrawing before 2022 as part of the redistricting process. New Jersey isn't gaining any seats or losing any of its current 12 districts, but population shifts could move more Republican constituencies into the district, which be a boon to Kean's efforts.
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Original Author: Kerry Picket