Sleepy N.J. primary elections offer few surprises

Kean, Malinowski headed for a rematch in November

By: - June 7, 2022 10:28 pm

Former state Sen. Tom Jean Jr. easily fended off six opponents to win the GOP primary in the 7th Congressional District, where he will face Rep. Tom Malinowski in November.

New Jersey voters delivered few surprises Tuesday, with preliminary election results in the state’s 12 congressional districts showing primary wins for all incumbents and victories for nearly all of the challengers who had official party support and the most campaign cash.

Former state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. won the 7th Congressional District’s seven-person Republican primary by a wide margin, setting Kean up to challenge Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski in November for the second time.

Malinowski, who handily defeated his one challenger today, eked out a victory against Kean in 2020 but heads into the fall handicapped by a newly drawn district that favors the GOP and a national environment inhospitable for Democrats.

“New Jersey needs a leader with a clear vision and the right experience to make a difference,” Kean said in a statement. “I am committed to taking on Washington’s out-of-control spending and delivering the honest public service that the people of this district deserve.”

In the 4th District, Rep. Chris Smith defeated three challengers — Mike Crispi, Steve Gray, and Mike Blasi — in the GOP primary in his bid for a 22nd term. Smith was targeted by Donald Trump after Smith voted in favor of President Biden’s infrastructure plan last year, but preliminary results show Smith leading his closest challenger by 10,000 votes.

Rep. Andy Kim is seeking his third term representing the 3rd District.. (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite-Pool/Getty Images)

In the 1st District, Rep. Donald Norcross easily defeated Mario DeSantis in the Democratic primary. Rep. Jeff Van Drew won the Republican primary in the 2nd District against John Barker and Sean Pignatelli. Rep. Andy Kim, a Democrat representing the 3rd District, easily survived a challenge from Reuven Hendler.

“These are tough times for our nation, and I believe these challenges call on all of us to earnestly work together to build unity,” Kim said in a statement. “I am ready to roll up my sleeves to build a diverse and strong coalition to do this hard work for this community and country that has given me and my family so much.”

Kim’s Republican opponent in November will be Bob Healey, who led a contentious GOP field that included Ian Smith, a gym owner who gained fame in 2020 after defying state lockdown orders.

In the 5th District Republican battle to take on Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer in November — Gottheimer ran unopposed Tuesday — Frank Pallotta won a close race against Nick DeGregorio, who conceded his loss Wednesday morning.

Democrat Rob Menendez, the son of Sen. Bob Menendez, swamped challengers David Ocampo Grajales and Ane Roseborough-Eberhard in the 8th District. Incumbent Rep. Donald Payne Jr. easily defeated fellow Democrats Imani Oakley and Akil Khalfani in the 10th District.

In a statement, Menendez noted that since he declared his candidacy, the nation has seen Russia invade Ukraine, the U.S. Supreme Court signal it may overturn Roe v. Wade, and massacres in Buffalo and Uvalde.

“I think about these challenges every day and they weigh on me, as they do on the entire country,” he said. “But I believe we can overcome them because I believe in this country and what it represents.”

Five House Democrats from New Jersey ran unchallenged Tuesday: Reps. Gottheimer, Frank Pallone, Bill Pascrell, Mikie Sherrill, and Bonnie Watson-Coleman.

In the Republican primary in the 11th District — represented by Sherrill — Paul DeGroot defeated challengers Tayfun Selen and Toby Anderson.


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