SOMERVILLE – The bin in the residential hallway overflowed with glossy mailers, the bulk of them devoted to the two major party candidates running in the 7th Congressional District and most of them hard negative.
U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7) wants to hold onto a seat that financially well-connected Democratic challenger Tom Malinowski hopes to wrench out from under him.
InsiderNJ poured the pieces onto a table, and what immediately became apparent was a Malinowski edge – at least in numbers.
Of the 12 randomly dredged mail pieces, eight belonged to the challenger’s backers, four to those of the incumbent. All eight of the pieces associated with Malinowski were negative. Of the four associated with Lance, two were positive and two were negative.
The first pro-Lance piece, issued by the National Association of REALTORS Congressional Fund, shows a tidy suburban home. “The key to protecting homeownership…” the piece reads. One unfolds two flaps to enter, where a smiling family stands in front of the same house teased on the outside. There’s a smiling inset picture of the Republican congressman with the words “strong bipartisan leadership.”
“Leonard Lance stood up to his own party to support New Jersey homeowners’ ability to fully deduct property taxes on their federal income tax returns,” the piece reads.
Then there’s a negative piece on behalf of Lance paid for by the Congressional Leadership Fund. It shows a sheep’s head and a rough cut of Malinowski’s face and torso. “Tom Malinowski is pulling the wool over the eyes of New Jersey voters.”
On the flip side it takes Malinowski to task for the following:
supporting “the dangerous” Iran deal;
criticizing “America for waging war against Al Qaeda;”
and other alleged foreign policy transgressions.
The second charge leveled against the challenger is particularly outrageous, as it associates former Human Rights Watch Director Malinowski’s criticism of the controversial Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp with hindering “the war on terror.” As the Democrat has pointed out in an effort to defend himself, the late U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) actually praised Malinowski for lobbying against permanent detention without trial.
A second different Congressional Leadership Fund piece lays out the same case against Malinowski with different art, again highlighting how he “criticized America for waging war against al Qaeda.”
The fourth pro-Lance piece, sent by No Labels No Action, praises Lance because he “works across the aisle to get things done in Washington.” The piece notes that Lance is a member of the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus. It does not, however, make mention of anything he – or they – did.
Then there are the pro-Malinowski, or rather, the anti-Lance pieces, staring with one issued by the New Jersey Democratic State Committee.
“Who will keep our kids safe?” rides Lance for receiving an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, juxtaposing a dismal picture of the congressman with the face of Tracy Keegan, identified as a gun violence survivor from Summit.
The second piece, this one from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and featuring a picture of a pile of bullets, cites the dates of mass murder shootings, in Sandy Hook, Pulse, Parkland and Las Vegas – and slaps Lance for voting “against commonsense gun reform.”
A House Majority PAC piece excoriates the Republican for voting “over 60 times to strip New Jerseyans of their health care coverage.” The charge is inaccurate. Lance did vote multiple times to repeal and/or rework the Affordable Care Act (ACA), cancel certain provisions or delay the implementation of others. That’s not the same as voting “over 60 times” to deprive New Jerseyans of healthcare. During the course of the campaign season, Malinowski has chided his opponent for reversing himself come crunch time by voting against the ACA repeal after Donald Trump became president.
Another pro-Malinowski DCCC piece hits him on an issue where the Catholic congressman has always been vulnerable with pro choice voters. “Lance opposes a woman’s right to choose. [He] voted to defund Planned Parenthood eight times. [He] voted to allow pharmacists to deny women birth control.” In 2008, then-Assemblywoman Linda Stender ran a pro choice campaign against Lance and, in a Democratic year, lost by eight points.
Another piece from the New Jersey Democratic State Committee swats him from voting “to gut Affordable Healthcare.”
Another DCCC piece upbraids him for voting to defund Planned Parenthood.
Then there’s another DCCC piece: “Leonard Lance votes against women’s health every chance he gets.”
The last one, again from the DCCC, combines the two issues they continually identify in the pieces, taking Lance to task on his gun record, and his record on women’s health.
A Monmouth University Poll issued last month has Malinowski ahead by eight points. The two battleground candidates are scheduled to face other at an NJTV debate next Wednesday.