Republican Tom Kean Jr. wins House race against Rep. Tom Malinowski

Malinowski trails Kean by nearly 14,000 votes

By: - November 9, 2022 12:11 pm

Congressman-elect Tom Kean Jr. at his election watch party in Basking Ridge on Nov. 8, 2022. (Hal Brown for New Jersey Monitor)

Rep. Tom Malinowski conceded the closely watched House race in the 7th District to former state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. Wednesday, handing New Jersey Republicans a third congressional seat.

Though the contest was too close to call Tuesday night, Kean pulled ahead as ballot counting resumed Wednesday, leading Malinowski by roughly five points and winning all but one of the district’s counties.

Kean had all but declared victory Tuesday just before midnight, and on Wednesday issued a statement thanking Malinowski for his years of public service “and for his vigorous campaign.”

“I am incredibly grateful to the voters of the 7th District for their confidence,” Kean said. “My solemn pledge to you will always be to serve with integrity, to listen, to learn, to earn this responsibility you’ve honored me with to steer this nation towards greater opportunity, security, and prosperity. Thank you to all of our supporters for their time, faith, passion, and trust. Our work has only just begun.”

Rep. Tom Malinowski was first elected to Congress during the anti-Trump Democratic wave of 2018. (Amanda Brown for New Jersey Monitor)

Malinowski had declined to concede Tuesday night in an apparent hope that late-arriving mail-in ballots would be numerous and Democratic enough to carry him to a third term. But such ballots are few, and though they will likely shrink Kean’s margin as counting continues, Malinowski’s path to victory had narrowed to near nothing by the time election officials paused their counts Tuesday evening.

“I am deeply grateful to the people of the 7th District for the honor of representing you, and I congratulate Congressman-Elect Kean,” Malinowski said in a statement.

The Associated Press has yet to call the race.

The 7th District was the only Democratic-held competitive district in the state to grow more Republican after district boundaries were redrawn last year, and Malinowski was broadly viewed as a sacrificial lamb that could — and in fact did — enable New Jersey Democrats to have a 9-3 majority in the state’s House delegation. Reps. Josh Gottheimer, Andy Kim, and Mikie Sherrill, who all saw their districts grow more Democratic after redistricting, won reelection Tuesday.

Kean, the son of former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean Sr., has run for federal office thrice before. He lost a primary for the 7th District’s GOP nod in 2000 and unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate against Sen. Bob Menendez six years later.

He came within a single point of ousting Malinowski in 2020. By Wednesday morning, his lead over Malinowski had grown to about 14,000.


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Nikita Biryukov
Nikita Biryukov

Nikita Biryukov most recently covered state government and politics for the New Jersey Globe. His tenure there included revelatory stories on marijuana legalization, voting reform and Rep. Jeff Van Drew's decamp to the Republican Party. Earlier, he worked as a freelancer for The Home News Tribune and The Press of Atlantic City.