“He lied to the voters.”
That’s Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House, talking about Democratic Congressman Tom Malinowski.
McCarthy was in New Jersey on Wednesday – at a Bridgewater diner no less – to hype the CD-7 candidacy of Tom Kean Jr., who is leaving the state Senate to run – again – for Congress. Kean lost to Malinowski by about 5,000 votes last fall.
In a video on the website, Save Jersey, McCarthy got right into speaking about Malinowski’s little faux pas earlier this year. That’s when it was revealed that the now, two-term congressman bought and sold as much as $1 million in stock in medical and tech companies that were not properly disclosed.
There are two problems here.
One is that Malinowski was trading in companies with a seeming financial stake in pandemic response.
The other is that he was lax in disclosing the trades.
The congressman has since owned up to the mistake and talked about using a “blind trust” from now on.
That’s fine and dandy, but the damage, at least politically speaking, has been done.
This is shaping up as the issue for Republicans, as evidenced by McCarthy’s comments and even his appearance in New Jersey.
Republicans need only a handful of wins next fall to take control of the House and make McCarthy speaker. And CD-7, which remains competitive and where Malinowski may be seen by some as “damaged goods,” is high on the GOP hit list.
McCarthy also spoke about rising inflation and alleged Democratic attempts to defund police and border security. Those are very much party-line positions that stir the base and do little else.
But it’s Malinowski’s stock trading that would seem to be a more profitable line of attack. It’s the type of thing that just looks bad.
Kean, of course, has run for Congress a few times. In addition to last year, he previously lost bids for the House and the Senate. So, his surname aside, he may not be the candidate from central casting.
His campaign strategy seems to be to say little of substance in public, or perhaps nothing at all.
The event with McCarthy was reportedly not open to all members of the press. That was similar to a Kean campaign “kickoff” last summer where reporters were also barred.
In the world of politics, it’s unusual for any candidate, regardless of party, to keep the press from attending a kickoff.
McCarthy, of course, has some history as well, most recently acting as a Donald Trump acolyte in the House. In a state where the former president got a wee bit more than 40 percent of the vote both times he ran, aligning with anything Trump is unlikely to do any candidate much good.
Not that McCarthy seems to care. Following the Kean kickoff, the GOP leader met with Trump at Bedminster, according to a statement from the former president, who said the pair had a lot to discuss.
Did that include Tom Kean Jr? Who knows?
Amid all this, we have redistricting.
The borders of CD-7 may change between now and next November.
Depending on how that turns out, McCarthy may have to visit another diner.