Weber Beats Malinowski for the Somerset County Democratic Line

SOMERVILLE – Banker Linda Weber of Berkeley Heights scored the first win of the season tonight in the contentious CD7 Democratic Primary, beating former State Department Official Tom Malinowski for the support of the Somerset County Democratic Committee.

Weber won 12 towns and Malinowski notched 5.

The result in Savor in downtown Somerville here was a unanimous endorsement award by the entire committee.

Malinowski won Hillsborough, Montgomery, Somerville, Bridgewater and Peapack.

Weber picked up the rest for the win.

The field of Democratic candidates competing to go against U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7) in the general election consists of Weber, Malinowski, attorney Goutam Jois of Summit, attorney Scott Salmon of Scotch Plains, social worker Peter Jacob of Springfield, attorney Lisa Mandleblatt of Westfield, and environmental activist Dave Pringle of Cranford.

But in the past few weeks the race narrowed to Weber and Malinowski, with the foreign policy credentials and fundraising capacities of the former impressing a vocal group of the county’s Democrats, even as Weber more obviously fit a prevailing party women empowerment narrative.

The plan late in 2017 was for all the county organizations with portions of the 7th District to issue a simultaneous endorsement, with Weber the favorite to get the nod. But Malinowski’s fundraising prowess (he’s parlayed national contacts into over $500k, compared to Weber’s $325K), solid debate performances, and a Union County mangled by a leadership vacuum derailed those intentions.

Somerset tonight went ahead anyway with a scheduled meeting and opted for Weber.

There was lingering interest in Malinowski in local town watering holes after the vote, however, suggesting an opening for the diplomat in June even if he lacks the formal support of the organization.

He fought Weber here to the wire – and still has a cash advantage.

Sources expect Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman Leroy Jones – who oversees the single Essex County town of Millburn in CD7 – to double down on Somerset’s selection tomorrow with a second county endorsement for Weber.

But Hunterdon, Warren, and – in particular – Union appear less settled at the moment.

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  • Joseph

    What is going on here? i don’t get it. What is the “line” in this balloting? is this a kind of electoral college kind of thing or can the Somerset vote on June 5th still end up in Malinowski’s column? It seem like a rush, moving it up two months — and there are a bunch more really good candidates that are still not well enough considered. I’m new to this process, but seems like unnecessary and premature sharp elbows politics for a united front against Rep. Lance in Nov.

    • Carol_in_LongValley

      On the primary ballot, the “line” indicates who is awarded the first column. Every other candidate comes after. All the candidates who have submitted paperwork (signatures) will also be on the ballot, just not in the first column. You can still vote for anyone on the ballot, or a write in.

      • Joseph

        Thanks, Carol-in -Long Valley. So it is an advantage, but not decisive. This Tom Malinowski seems so much more the states person material by experience and connections to be able eventually to hit the ground running and mild-mannered in spite of strong, principled positions which he was able to put forward very forcefully. Hope the minutia of local politics doesn’t have an inappropriate impact.

        • Carol_in_LongValley

          Me too.

          • Roger Koch

            I have heard that the way the county party determined who will get the first position on the ballot was “undemocratic” and did not count the popular vote total for all district reps. for all towns. In other words whoever had the most votes in a town regardless of how few or how many was awarded 1 vote for each town they won. So large towns with more district reps because of greater population got same vote count for a win as a small town with much fewer district reps and smaller population. This seems to be counter productive if we want to win the overall election against Lance which will be based upon the popular vote as the Somerset Democratic Party vote should have. Do we want to win this seat or just have a woman candidate?
            The overall vote totals for the candidates adding all the votes from all towns together should be tallied, reported publicly and the candidate with the most votes should get the county line on the ballot. This process which I have heard was advocated by Party Chairman Peg Schaefer sounds more autocratic than Democratic. All District Representatives who voted should demand the popular vote totals so that their party’s pick of the party line reflects the majority vote by the reps.
            Roger K, Hillsborough

      • tiredofit

        The line does not mean the first column at all, but that all candidates endorsed by the party are in the first column. The order of the columns is determined by the County Clerk in a random draw.

        In 2016, the Somerset County Dems endorsed Hillary Clinton but she was in Column 2 and Bernie Sanders in column 1. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8738cb02dd8f7280e647cb3b8b70e9275f1d665bf187d363c215bda3bfb73a7f.png (pic below)

        In 2017, there were six Democrats running for the NJ Gov nomination, and the Somerset County line went to column 6. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c9c17da789eb6428c94a96de3762af642b9e339833a0b91e6da1dec37d857c71.png

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