MENDHAM TOWNSHIP – Both Tom Malinowski and his Republican opponent, Tom Kean Jr., reportedly occupied the same space on a brilliantly-clear and sunny July 4 morning – ever so briefly.
Malinowski and Kean both showed up along Tingley Road and East Main Street, the staging area for the township’s annual Independence Day Parade.
But those hoping for an impromptu debate were disappointed.
Malinowski marched along with about 50 or so Democrats.
Kean didn’t march. Local Republicans said he was there, but that he left before the parade began.
So, Malinowski had the field – or rather the parade – to himself.
The township is new ground for CD-7; it had been in CD-11. But redistricting has put the township in CD-7 except for a few streets that, incongruously, remain in the 11th.
Malinowski said the ground may be new, but judging by the group marching behind him, the territory is “fertile” as well.
The race in CD-7 will likely draw national attention. It is clearly the most competitive district in the state and it’s one Republicans are hoping to “take back.”
Long a GOP stronghold, Malinowski won the district, which ranges over six counties in northern and central Jersey, in 2018, ousting Leonard Lance. He held it two years ago, beating Kean by about 5,000 votes.
Malinowski said the race is heating up already, but that he knows it will get more intense in the months ahead.
Kean has been highlighting inflation, using his Facebook page to show how the cost of all sorts of goods have risen. One of his latest posts in this regard surely had the holiday weekend in mind; it had to do with beer, which Kean said is up 4.5 percent in the last year and a half.
Asked about this, Malinowski noted high inflation across Europe as well, contending that this is a worldwide problem.
As for the United States, he said Congress has tried to reduce costs with measures to expand the supply of baby formula and to hold oil companies responsible for excessive profits.
He said Republicans have opposed those measures, suggesting that they rather run against the problem than propose a solution.
As for Kean’s Facebook posts, Malinowski said, “I would love to hear his solution.”
As the congressman and his group marched along East Main Street, Malinowski chatted with spectators and handed out miniature American flags.
Politically, the township has become quite competitive. Republicans control town government, although Mikie Sherrill narrowly won the township in 2018 and 2020. You figure it’s going to be pretty close this year as well.