Don’t expect Joe Biden to show up in CD-7 this fall to campaign for Tom Malinowski.
That was the obvious message emanating from a virtual “town hall” Malinowski held last week. CD-7 in central and western Jersey probably is the most competitive district in the state – and one that now leans slightly Republican after redistricting.
One of the questioners at the July 21 forum, a David from Westfield, clearly wanted to make a political point. He asked Malinowski if he planned to endorse Biden’s reelection and more to the point, does the congressman want Biden to come to the district to campaign for him?
Talk about a loaded question.
Biden’s approval rating at the moment in most polls is less than 40 percent; that hardly makes the president an attractive campaign spokesman for anyone.
Then again, Malinowski likely doesn’t want to criticize a president from his own party.
So it was not surprising that Malinowski ignored that part of the question.
As for endorsing Biden’s reelection, Malinowski was more forthcoming – up to a point.
He said he’s focused on his own reelection and that he’ll worry about endorsing a 2024 presidential candidate when the time comes. The congressman did say he wants a candidate who will deliver for New Jersey and more generally, a candidate who’s going to fight inflation and not ban abortion.
Virtual town halls, which became common with the pandemic, can be lackluster affairs. They often lack the spark of an in-person venue.
The provocative question about Biden was one of the few times I’ve heard a critical query in any one of these settings. This time around, there was one other – a question about recent investments in the microchip industry by the husband of Nancy Pelosi. With Congress considering a bill to help the “chip” industry, Malinowski said he’s concerned about the appearance of conflict.
Other than that, the congressman spoke – and was asked – about the need to stand up for abortion rights and other social issues. He said it seems as if the U.S. Supreme Court wants to repeal the Twentieth Century.
Malinowski also stressed his work in getting federal support for a laundry list of projects and initiatives throughout the district. This is not sexy stuff. But it is what Congress is supposed to do.
The congressman mentioned money for road and bridge improvements and such individual projects as a swimming pool in Hunterdon County, a water tower in Alpha and a YMCA renovation in Hillsboro. As is often pointed out, New Jersey taxpayers send more tax money to Washington than they get back in aid, so all House members are delighted to talk about bringing some money back.
Malinowski, of course, is being challenged for the second time by Tom Kean Jr. Malinowski won two years ago by about 5,000 votes.
Team Kean last week fired off a release stressing a standard campaign theme – Malinowski is no moderate.
Kean said Malinowski often votes the same as left wingers like AOC and that he played politics with the trillion dollar-plus infrastructure bill.
The release also introduced a new name – Asif Mahmood.
Asif Mahmood is seeking a congressional seat in California and according to the release, is a “radical Democrat” and a man Malinowski supports financially.
OK, but really now.
If a campaign wants to target a villain, it’s probably more prudent to pick someone better known than a guy running 3,000 miles away.