SPOTLIGHT | NJ-7

A New Jersey District Republicans May Need

The 7th is likely part of the GOP's path back to the majority.

Senate Republican leader Sen. Thomas H Kean Jr., left, R- Westfield, NJ., answers a question as he stands in the Senate chamber of the New Jersey Statehouse Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016, in Trenton, N.J. After New Jersey lawmakers postponed a vote on raising the nation's second lowest gas tax by 23 cents a gallon, Senate President Steve Sweeney said that lawmakers will return and vote on the measure on Friday.
AP Photo/Mel Evans
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Kyle Trygstad
April 17, 2019, 10:17 a.m.

Calling himself a “Tom Kean Republican,” state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. launched a campaign Tuesday in New Jersey’s 7th District, which may be the GOP’s best shot to win back one of the four seats in the state to flip to the Democrats in November.

Kean Jr., a state senator for the past two decades and the son of a popular two-term governor who served in the 1980s, is making his second bid for federal office. He lost a nasty race against then-Rep. Bob Menendez by 9 points in 2006, a Democratic wave year.

He’s now taking on Rep. Tom Malinowski, who unseated Republican Leonard Lance by 5 points, in a presidential cycle and with President Trump, who lost the state by 14 points, leading the ticket. The district, which stretches from Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley to Union County, backed Mitt Romney by 6 points before Hillary Clinton carried it by 1.

Kean Jr. walks into the race with built-in name ID, experience in a high-profile campaign, the ability to fundraise, and a motivated national party that knows it likely needs this seat to win back the majority. But Malinowski’s strong fundraising continued in the first quarter, when he raised $562,000.

-- Kyle Trygstad

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