As the CD7 candidates head toward a Super Bowl Sunday morning Hunterdon County Democratic Convention, Tom Malinowski is making an aggressive push on both the fundraising and door-to-door combat front in an attempt to block the party establishment favorite and send a message to still-undecided Union County.
The party organizations in Essex and Somerset counties backed Malinowski’s challenger, banker Linda Weber of Berkeley Heights. In a tweet last Saturday, Hunterdon County Democratic Chair Arlene Quinones Perez personally endorsed Weber. But the fight for organizational backing in the chair’s home county remains divided, with Weber and Malinowski appearing to dominate a seven-person contest ahead of a Sunday convention.
“My decision to support Linda Weber is based on her ability to talk to fellow N.J. taxpayers on why her economic background will benefit our citizens,” Quinones Perez told InsiderNJ today. “Linda not only raised her children here, but she knows the local issues She is prepared to stand against the Republican Party and their complete disregard of issues that matter to us: healthcare, taxes, education.
“We need party unity in CD7 in order to defeat Lance in November and my obligation as a leader in this state is to ensure that I support a candidate that can win,” the chair added. “Linda can win.”
It’s 50-50, Linda v Tom in the chair’s county as of right now, and it will require two rounds of votes, a source close to the process told InsiderNJ.
A late entrant to the race, Malinowski has brought the heat late; and can walk into Hunterdon Sunday amped with a financial argument in the immediate aftermath of newly released Federal Election Commission (FEC) figures.
He dominates the Democratic field:
Malinowski allies note Weber’s burn rate, and scratch their heads over what they say is the contradiction of Quinones Perez’s argument that money matters in the contest, even as her candidate gets financially outdueled by Malinowski, who entered the contest months after Weber.
A former assistant secretary of state under John Kerry, Malinowski has also impressed with his debate performances and foreign policy knowledge base. But he has also triggered hand wringing among those who fear a white male will make a poor standard bearer this year, in addition to the fact that he only moved into the district in late 2017. Granted, he grew up in Princeton, but he’s been gone too long to give comfort who crave closer proximity.
Clinton Mayor Janice Kovach, herself a former CD7 Democratic challenger, backs Malinowski.
“He could have gone anywhere to run but he came home to the district he grew up in,” she said.
As they try to get the best candidate to go up against U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7) this year, Democrats in the district this week absorbed news of the retirement of U.S. Rep. Frelinghuysen (R-11), a moderate Republican with family roots going back to the American Revolution apparently done in by the Trump era.
On the one had, progressives see Frelinghuysen as another pelt on the wall of the movement, with Lance simply the next targeted takedown. But insiders see a downside too to the Frelinghuysen retirement for Democrats, noting that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) sees opportunity in CD11, in part the consequence of a Democratic challenger (helicopter pilot Mikie Sherrill) in possession of party organization support.
Dems at the national level also want to defend incumbent U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5); and with the retirement of U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-2), South Jersey will make a federal case for the candidacy of state Senator Jeff Van Drew (D-1).
CD7 simultaneously endures as an unresolved Democratic Primary, split seven ways but significantly, between a money muscled-up Malinowski and Weber as they head toward Sunday.