The recent redistricting of New Jersey’s Congressional map appears at first glance to have vastly increased the chances of Republican State Senator Tom Kean, Jr. unseating Democratic 7th district incumbent Congressman Tom Malinowski in the 2022 elections. In the 2020 campaign, Kean only lost to Malinowski by one point in a district Joe Biden carried by 10 points. This time, Kean will be running in a reconstituted district that Biden only won in 2020 by four points, still a Democratic lean in 2022, but much less than in 2020.
Accordingly, conventional wisdom has it that Kean is a highly likely 2022 winner. He almost won in 2020 by garnering a major Democratic crossover vote.
Kean will need a much lesser crossover vote to win in 2022 than he did in 2020. And it is true that in 2022, Tom Kean, Jr. remains a most attractive candidate for a Democratic voter seeking to split his or her voting ticket, with his centrist record as State Senate Republican leader, his two-decade public service record untarnished by scandal, his excellent policy acumen, and above all, the Kean family heritage, which remains the gold standard of New Jersey politics.
In fact, this conventional wisdom is so widespread that the speculation among Trenton insiders is that Malinowski will not run for reelection but instead will seek a high ranking State Department job in the Biden administration. He would probably find a more sympathetic audience for his State Department aspirations both at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and at Foggy Bottom if he first ran for reelection and lost.
There is one major flaw in this unwise conventional wisdom. In 2020, a Democratic or Independent voter could cast his or her vote for Republican Tom Kean, Jr. without fear that this would result in Republicans gaining control of the US House of Representatives. In that campaign, in order to achieve a House majority, the Republicans needed to win 21 seats held by the Democrats. Prior to the 2020 election, this was considered to be a virtual impossibility.
The situation is much different in 2022. The Republicans nationwide only need to register a net gain of six House seats to gain control. The election of Tom Kean, Jr. would make the Republican capture of the House this year a virtual certainty.
And the prospect of a Republican-controlled House is, without hyperbole, an absolutely terrifying prospect to both Democratic and Independent voters in New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District. For that reason, Democratic crossover voting for Tom Kean, Jr. in 2022 will be far less than it was in 2020.
A Republican-controlled US House of Representatives means a parade of horribles unmatched in modern American history winning control of at least one of America’s two national legislative houses. And the worst of these horribles will be the ascension to high power of the neofascist Congressman from Ohio, Jim Jordan.
If Kean ally House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, as expected, becomes Speaker of a Republican-controlled House, he will without question appoint Jim Jordan as Chair of the powerful House Judiciary Committee. Jordan is currently the committee’s Ranking Republican member.
Jim Jordan is the 21st Century American prototype of Oswald Mosley, the leader of the British Union of Fascists in the 1920s and 1930s. He has been described by former Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner as a “legislative terrorist.”
He has now been conclusively identified as a traitorous plotter of the coup against the government of the United States of America prior to January 6, 2021. His abusive treatment of witnesses before the House Judiciary Committee makes the behavior of Joe McCarthy at the Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954 look like a model of civility. And if you read How Fascism Works by Jason Stanley, America’s leading authority on fascism, you will find that Jim Jordan checks off all the boxes in terms of being America’s 21st century archetypal neofascist.
Even worse, there is increasing talk that Jim Jordan may challenge Kevin McCarthy and run for Speaker of the House in the event of a GOP Congressional victory in November. This speculation will increase the potency of Democratic anti-Jim Jordan attacks in 2022 against credible Republicans Congressional challengers like Tom Kean, Jr.
In all fairness to Tom Kean, Jr., he is a profoundly decent non-Trumpist center-right Republican who does not desire the elevation of Jim Jordan to a position of national Congressional leadership.
Kean, cannot deny, however, with any credibility, that an inevitable consequence, albeit unintended, of his victory in New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District this November would be the frightening ascension to national power of Jim Jordan.
I remember during the 1990s how Democrats campaigned against Republican Congressional challengers by broadcasting commercials denouncing Newt Gingrich, then the GOP Speaker of the House. Gingrich, however, was an absolutely nonfascist benign figure as compared with Jim Jordan.
Accordingly, we may expect the Malinowski campaign to launch the following message against Tom Kean, Jr., beginning in September, 2022, by television, direct mail, and digital communications – a message that can severely limit the appeal of Tom Kean, Jr. to Democratic and Independent voters:
Republican Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio has been described by former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner as a “legislative terrorist.” Prior to January 6, Legislative Terrorist Traitor Jim Jordan participated in the plotting of a coup against the government of the United States.
If Tom Kean, Jr. is elected to Congress, the Republicans will win control of the US House of Representatives, and Jim Jordan will become a national Congressional leader. This will be a disaster for America. Don’t let this happen. Defeat Tom Kean, Jr. and vote to reelect Tom Malinowski on Tuesday, November 8.
I would note that Tom Malinowski has as his consultants the two most competent political message professionals in New Jersey, Brad Lawrence and Steve DeMicco. They can craft and phrase the aforesaid message far more elegantly and effectively than I.
The situation for Kean is worsened by the fact that he cannot politically afford to repudiate Jim Jordan without making his own defeat a certainty. The newly reconstituted 7th Congressional District now includes an additional 24 towns from Warren and Sussex Counties, among the most red communities in New Jersey. Voters in these municipalities venerate Donald Trump and Jim Jordan, and they will refuse to vote for Kean in the Congressional election if he denounces Jim Jordan.
Kean’s campaign will try to mitigate the effect of a Malinowski anti-Jim Jordan campaign by noting that the Democrats have their horribles as well, in the form of the antisemitic “Squad” members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. There is, however, one major difference. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a supremely powerful and effective leader who has not and never will allow AOC, Omar, and Tlaib to attain positions of power. By contrast, the pusillanimous Kevin McCarthy will allow his lunatics, Jim Jordan, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Lauren Boebert to take over the asylum.
Tom Malinowski can win reelection by running as if his opponent were Jim Jordan and not Tom Kean, Jr. In any event, the New Jersey political punditry class should heed the words of that late, great political savant of Montclair, Lorenzo Pietro Berra a/k/a Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over!”
Alan J. Steinberg served as regional administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as executive director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission.