NEWS 12 DEBATE: Lance and Malinowski Fight for the Rational Center of CD7

The temperate moods of the two rivals obscured a very hard-edged collision in the first debate between incumbent U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7) and former Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski moderated by News 12’s Eric Landskroner, the host of Power and Politics.

Throughout the half-hour exchange, Malinowski stuck to his argument that Lance has not adequately stood up for the 7th District, a travesty in these times, he argued, as President Donald J. Trump lays siege to New Jersey voters. For his part, Lance hammered Malinowski – who grew up in the area but only recently moved to the 7th Congressional District – on residency.


“I see those lines [of common decency] being crossed every day, and a Congress that’s not doing anything about it,” Malinowski said. “We can send back a congressman who has been coasting and has no achievements to his name, or send someone like me, who has [a bipartisan work product] and real accomplishments to my name.”

“I’m a lifelong resident of the district,” said Lance. “I know it like the back of my hand. …I do not favor a single payer system as exists in Europe. My opponent does. ..I am a member of the problem solvers caucus. No labels.”

Malinowski argued that Lance ineffectively occupies a majority party that fails to respect New Jersey, which is right now marking up a bill to make state and local property tax deductions permanent. Lance countered that he opposed the SALT bill, then – as he tried to make a finer case for his moderate, centrist priorities – tried later to tag Malinowski with the label of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi backer.

Malinowski can’t say he won’t support Pelosi for Speaker.

“I will only give my vote to  a speaker who promises to restore the SALT deduction early in the next


session,” the challenger said. “Can you say the same?”

“Through the discharge petition,” Lance said.

“I will only vote for a speaker who helps me stand up for New Jersey,” Malinowski maintained.

“He’s in Nancy Pelosi’s pocket,” Lance charged.

The race is close, according to a Monmouth University Poll, out this week, that shows Malinowski up by eight points.

“My opponent has never paid a penny in property taxes in New Jersey,” Lance said. “He has a one million dollar house in D.C. My wife and I have been property taxpayers for a generation. I did not just move into the district to run for Congress. …I think it’s important that Mr. Malinowski has not purchased a house here.”

Malinowski noted the Lance doesn’t take principled stands, and essentially disappears in crisis moments. “More than 60 times you voted to repeal or gut the Affordable Care Act,” he said.


“I didn’t vote for Obamacare and I didn’t vote for the Republican bill last year,” Lance said.

The congressman voted against, then for, but never with a meaningful solution transcending the political atmosphere, the Democrat said.

Throughout, Malinowski made his case that Lance has insufficiently stood up to an abusive Trump.

“I am known for my civility,” answered the mild-mannered GOP incumbent. “I’ve conducted 47 town hall meetings. I have been critical of Donald Trump where I think he has lacked civility.

Malinowski made his case for being the more credible moderate.

“One of the things I’m most proud of: I was nominated by Obama, and introduced by Senator John McCain. I fear we’re losing that center that Senator McCain and others represented,” Malinowski said.



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