The Dynamics of Kean v. Malinowski

CD7, Kean and Malinowski.

So, who wins? The guy with the most votes or the most signatures?

It’s a silly question, but in the already, highly-competitive CD-7 race, the Tom Malinowski campaign is bragging about its signatures. A mere 200 are needed to get on the congressional ballot, but the incumbent Democrat got more than 3,500 of them – 3,526 to be exact. And as the Malinowski campaign eagerly pointed out, “Tom Kean Jr. managed to file 332 signatures, a bare 132 over the amount required ….”

What does this mean? On one hand, it means nothing at all. As long as you get on the ballot, you are in the game. But it means something to Malinowski.

Campaign Manager Stacy Cohen said in a release that, “Our petition results demonstrate the incredible level of grassroots enthusiasm and support that exists in our campaign. ….Voters know what the stakes are this year and trust Tom Malinowski to have their backs.”

Cohen added that Kean’s petition signatures suggest that his support – even among GOP voters – is “feeble.” The Kean campaign disagrees.

A recent statement eschewed any talk of petition signatures in favor of money. It said the Kean campaign has raised $840,000 during the first three months of 2022. “We have had outstanding success raising the funds necessary to win this race because our supporters know what is at stake,” said Kean. (Everybody seems to know what’s at stake) “The Joe Biden-Tom Malinowski course continues to feed surging inflation, weaken America’s borders and double down on a failed foreign policy across the globe.”

Malinowski’s fundraising has been robust as well, although Kean’s yield is impressive for a challenger, albeit one who just ran two years ago.

Malinowski won that race by about 5,000 votes, but since then, a new map has made the 7th District friendlier to Republicans. GOP terrain in Warren and Sussex counties has been added, and CD-7 has lost such Democratic-leaning towns as Millburn and Dover. Kean, of course, has a primary to which he needs to pay at least some attention. Kean is the establishment candidate and his challengers are from the right.

While it’s hard to see him losing, Kean’s primary opponents likely will be irritants. One of them, Assemblyman Erik Peterson of Hunterdon County, just announced an endorsement from the New Jersey Right To Life PAC, which represents a key GOP primary constituency. And then there’s Phil Rizzo, who raised $215,000 in the first quarter of 2022. In a release, he claimed that Kean is neither a conservative nor a real Republican, but “part of the leftist elite.”

Rizzo is also hyping an endorsement from Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina. Cawthorn garnered attention recently – and was criticized by fellow Republicans – after he talked about being invited to Washington D.C. parties involving orgies and drugs. Certainly an odd endorsement for Rizzo to trumpet.

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