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The 2020 election gets closer every day and Republican Thomas Kean Jr. wants to make sure people know he’s running against Democrat Tom Malinowski in District 7.
The Kean campaign dispatched a release Monday saying the candidate has raised “over $500,000 during the first three months of his campaign.”
Kean, the current state Senate Majority Leader and the son of the former governor of the same name, is arguably the leading GOP candidate in District 7. Others in the race or considering a run are Tom Phillips and Rosemary Becchi.
Malinowski, who beat incumbent Rep. Leonard Lance last fall, has about $548,000 in cash “on hand,” according to the most recent filing available from the Federal Election Commission. That does not include yet the period ending June 30, so that number may have increased.
Kean’s statement includes the customary rhetoric about the candidate being “humbled” by the support he’s received so far. And he predicts that he and his supporters can “take back” the seventh district, which ranges over parts of Essex, Union, Somerset, Hunterdon, Morris and Warren counties in western New Jersey.
Malinowski won the district last fall by about 16,000 votes; the key to his success was winning in Union and Somerset counties.
Kean also referred to a survey of district voters done by the National Republican Congressional Committee. Now, partisan surveys are notoriously unreliable, but for the record, the survey found that a so-called “named” Republican candidate leads Malinowski by two points, 44 to 42 percent. That is a dead heat.
Perhaps a more interesting finding was that 54 percent of voters have never heard of Malinowski or have no opinion of him. Among Republicans, that number rose to more than 60 percent.
Those numbers probably have more to do with unfortunate voter indifference than they do with anything Malinowski has, or has not, done.
In truth, Malinowski has not been invisible. He has held a number of public events around the district and more notably, sparred publicly with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the president’s seeing fondness for North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
Continuing on this theme, just last week, Malinowski said in a televised interview that he plans to introduce a bill blaming the North Korean leader for the death of Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old, who died in the United States shortly after returning from North Korea. Warmbier had been jailed and presumably tortured for stealing a propaganda poster while visiting as a tourist.
Malinowski says congressional action is needed in response to the president saying he accepted Kim’s word that the ruler had nothing to do with the young man’s death.
Malinowski was interviewed about this last Friday night on MSNBC. The Friday night of a holiday weekend is hardly prime viewing time, but the congressman did make his point.
The GOP survey also reported that most voters in the district do not want the president to be impeached and drew the conclusion that this is bad news for the incumbent. Maybe. But here’s a more relevant question: do they want Donald Trump to continue in office?
Hillary Clinton won the district, albeit narrowly, in 2016 and Democratic anger over the Trump presidency keyed Malinowski’s win last year. If that sentiment is still out there, it’s going to aid the Democrat.