MOUNTAIN LAKES – Tom Malinowski says he loved voting for Speaker of the House.
“I only got to do it twice. These guys do it twice a day.”
The onetime CD-7 congressman seemed quite relaxed as he addressed Morris County Democrats at a Wednesday night fundraiser.
After the joke and after saying being a “former congressman” is a great job, Malinowski got around to the man who unseated him last year, Thomas H. Kean Jr.
It wasn’t pretty.
He cited press reports about Kean’s dilemma in voting for Speaker.
Would he side with most in his caucus and back Jim Jordan? Or would he side with the wishes of many in his district and not? After all, as Malinowski noted, Jordan is no fan of Jersey, having opposed, for instance, federal aid to the state after Sandy.
However, how about ignoring such concerns and doing what’s best for the country?
Malinowski answered his own question.
“No one even expects that Tom Kean Jr.’s thought process would get to that level of analysis,” he said.
Kean, by the way, voted for Jordan – twice so far.
Malinowski, who beat Kean in 2020 before losing last year, was not done with his biting critique of his successor.
He said Kean apparently likes being part of the “in” crowd.
As in “in-visible” or “in-significant,” he said, adding that while Kean is not an insurrectionist, he is “in-timidated” by them.
The crowd loved it. Besides county Dems, the audience also included two Democrats seeking next year’s CD-7 nomination – Sue Altman and Jason Blazakis – and gubernatorial candidate Steve Fulop.
Moving on to more substantive matters, Malinowski highlighted accomplishments of the last Congress, including a bipartisan infrastructure bill, the CHIPS act, which helped the nation’s microchip industry and letting Medicare work to lower drug prices through negotiation.
The overall point was that Democrats accomplished this with a majority as small as the Republicans’ majority today. In contrast, he said the GOP can’t even decide on a pizza order, let alone elect a new Speaker.
Malinowski eschewed another run for the House next year, but his name has popped up as a possible U.S. Senate candidate. He said only that there will be a new senator from New Jersey in 2025.
There is, of course, an election this year that Malinowski is involved in. He has formed a group, Districts for Democracy, to fight conservative efforts to win school board seats.
In some ways, this is a more intriguing 2023 election battle than the fight over the state Legislature.
Malinowski acknowledged that some Democratic leaders have been reluctant to plunge into this aspect of the “culture wars.”
School board races are officially non-partisan, but that’s no longer reality.
The former congressman sized up the current battle this way:
“The last thing that New Jerseyans want …. is crazy MAGA Republicans taking over our schools so they can ban Shakespeare and books about Rosa Parks.”