CLINTON – Tom Malinowski can’t ignore the attacks coming his way from Tom H. Kean Jr., especially one linking him to protecting sex predators.
Is he surprised at the Republican’s tactics?
“Yes and no,” Malinowski said during a pandemic-impacted campaign event Saturday morning in this Hunterdon County town. He said some warned him what to expect, judging from Kean’s unsuccessful 2006 U.S. Senate campaign against Bob Menendez.
By the way, the ad in question has been judged to be false by some fact checkers.
Rather than delve into specifics, Malinowski said he doesn’t think Kean’s harsh attacks help the challenger’s campaign.
“He’s got a good name, why would he tarnish it?” Malinowski said, referring to the challenger’s father, Tom H.Kean Sr., a popular former governor.
The first-term Democrat commented during a 2020-style campaign event.
The congressman stood at the end of a circular driveway on West Main Street, chatting with voters as they drove up to him. Staffers handed out campaign signs and asked people if they wanted to help with the campaign.
“Thirty-eight days to go,” he said more than once. Malinowski said he expected a “close race,” adding, not surprisingly, that he expects to prevail.
One of the differences between the parties this time around is campaigning itself.
Republicans by and large are canvassing door-to-door, having rallies and staging traditional campaign events. Democrats are not.
“I want to reach people, but I want to set a good example as well,” Malinowski said.
Large gatherings, notwithstanding, local Democrats on hand this morning said party voters are enthusiastic about voting. Hunterdon is tough terrain for Democrats. Malinowski lost the county by about 6,000 votes in 2018.
The suddenly not so simple act of voting also is an issue. Some Republicans, including, of course, the president, continue to lambaste the idea of voting-by-mail.
Malinowski told one driver who brought up the issue that, “He (Donald Trump) wants you to be scared. He wants you to lose confidence in the process.”
How do you overcome that?
The congressman said one thing you do is vote, adding, “Concentrate on what you can do. That’s what keeps me sane.”
As cars of varying makes and models rolled up – there was even a DeLorean – Kean’s name came up again.
“People know his name,” Malinowski said. “But he’s obviously not his father and he’s proving that every day.”