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CLINTON – Tom Malinowski has two potential challengers next year – Thomas H. Kean Jr. and Rosemary Becchi.
Republican interest in unseating the freshman Democrat, however, is not extending to public events.
Malinowski has held numerous interactions with constituents in the 7th District with most of those
attending on his side. That was definitely the case Friday afternoon when the congressman discussed issues for 90 minutes with about 40 people jammed into a small Main Street coffee shop in this quaint
Hunterdon County town.
If we digress for a bit, town halls and similar public events have been big deals in northwest New Jersey.
Rodney Frelinghuysen refused to hold any, a stance that fueled public opposition, hastened his retirement and put a Democrat (Mikie Sherrill) in his seat. Leonard Lance did hold town halls, but still
lost to Malinowski last year.
The new congressman has held dozen of public events, usually among friends, although a Republican “tracker” occasionally has shown up to record things and to shout questions at Malinowski as he leaves the event.
Friday was the first time Malinowski faced, if you will, “real people,” since supporting an official impeachment inquiry. If there was anyone in the room who disagreed with that stance, they kept
Malinowski said afterwards that he would “welcome” challenging questions, saying that, if nothing else, it would make events of this type more interesting.
Topics discussed on Friday included health care, climate change and cyber security. These are important topics to be sure, but there was no genuine debate.
One questioner seemed concerned that Democratic presidential candidates are so divided over health care. Malinowski played down the division, saying the important thing is that all agree on the core
principle – that being that all Americans deserve access to health insurance and care.
As for impeachment. which surprisingly, was not an overly hot topic among the crowd Malinowski talked about dealing with the uncharted territory of an administration that doesn’t respect the subpoena power of Congress.
“It’s really simple to me, it’s abuse of power,” he said.
Left unsaid was that there’s nothing simple or easy about a solution.