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Political Note #293   Tom Malinowski. NJ CD 07

2020                             General Election

Tom Malinowski is a different kind of guy.  At 54, he’s older than most new Members of Congress.  Democrats flipped 42 Republican seats in 2018.  Of those, 7 were his age or older.  He is not radically different.  But a lot of those who flipped seats were in their thirties or forties.

Tom Malinowski is a different kind of guy.  He’s a progressive.  Democrats flipped several Republican seats. Most of those who flipped seats were moderate Democrats.  Some were pretty conservative.  Of the 26 Members of the Conservative Democratic Blue Dog caucus, nine are new Members who flipped seats in 2018.  He is not radically different.

Tom Malinowski is a member of the New Democratic Caucus.  That’s the mainstream, moderate group.  If the caucuses were affinity groups rather than political homes that characterize their members, he’d be a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Tom Malinowski is a different kind of guy.  He had a substantial national career before being elected to Congress.  Very few of the Class of 2018 had his kind of experience.  Donna Shalala of FL 27 was Secretary of Health and Human Services for Bill Clinton.  Ann Kirkpatrick was a long-time Member of Congress who returned after losing a Senate run.  Tom Malinowski was Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor for John Kerry and  Barack Obama.

After the end of the Clinton Administration where he was a speechwriter  and before his appointment to the Obama administration, he was a lobbyist for Human Rights Watch.  He advocated closing the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay.  He opposed giving cluster bombs to Israel.  He opposed the wall separating Israel from the West Bank.  As Assistant Secretary of State, he led efforts against religious persecution and torture and was expelled from Bahrain for meeting with members of the opposition.

Tom Malinowski is not so different in one important way.  Like many of the 2018 candidates for Congress, he was motivated to run so that he could better oppose Donald Trump.  He was particularly opposed to the effort to end the Affordable Care Act and the Muslim ban.  In Congress, he was an early advocate of impeachment of President Trump and, when asked, expressed support for Bernie Sanders.  Later, he endorsed the presumptive nominee, Joe Biden.

Tom Malinowski is a different kind of guy.  He has no delusions about becoming President of the United States. He was born in Poland.  More than most Democratic Members of Congress, he, nevertheless, has family with national political experience.  He lived in Poland until he was six years old, when his mother married print and television journalist and executive Blair Clark and moved to Princeton, NJ.  Clark has been credited with hiring, for CBS, Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, and Morley Safer.  He interrupted his media career to become the campaign manager for Eugene McCarthy’s run against Lyndon Johnson.

Tom Malinowski has been diligent about not being too different.  Govtrack calculates where to place Members of Congress ideologically and where to place them as leaders.  He is in the middle in both categories.  That’s pretty high in leadership for a freshman.  It is pretty middling for a Congressman with radical experience.  Not that he has abandoned his past.  Early in May, he criticized the Egyptian regime for its cruelty and for its failure to be helpful for American security.

Tom Malinowski has a formidable opponent, an opponent who has crafted an image as a moderate Republican – Tom Kean, Jr.  Kean’s father was once governor of New Jersey. Kean, as New Jersey State Senate minority leader clashed with Republican Chris Christie and successfully fought back against Christie’s attempt to remove him from his role.  Kean, Jr. has a distinguished American heritage.  He is a descendent of Peter Stuyvesant, the Dutch colonial governor of New Amsterdam.  He is a descendent of John Winthrop, the first colonial governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  Would someone know how to attack him as too conservative?

FDR would have known how.  He knew how to put Kean’s great, great uncle Hamilton Fish in his place.  He led crowds chanting “Martin, Barton, and Fish.”   They were Republican House Members who wanted to block his agenda.  Fish got tagged as a Nazi sympathizer and lost his House seat in 1944.

Is Tom Malinowski up to that kind of political combat?  He described Kean as an opponent of working Americans who voted 5 times against raising New Jersey’s minimum wage.  4 times against prevailing wage laws, and who undermined collective bargaining.  Tom Malinowski complains that Keane voted against providing heath and unemployment insurance for employees in labor disputes, and opposed landmark legislation to crack down on wage theft and and other ways New Jersey workers are exploited.

Tom Malinowski insists that Kean Jr is “no moderate,” and ties him to Trump. He describes Kean, Jr. as comfortable “following the Trump playbook of lies, fear and divisiveness….

Tom Malinowsky can follow this playbook and win.  He and Kean Jr have held onto the money they have raised.  Kean Jr started in April with $1.1 million on hand for the balance of the campaign.  Tom Malinowski did better.  He began April with $2.6 million.  Winning the money race can mean winning the election.  Help Tom Malinowski pile on.  Provide him with some resources,

Vulnerable Democratic Members of Congress, most of them first elected in 2018. Choose a few to support.  Check them out. Read my Notes about them in 

Elected by fewer than 1,000 votes

California 21                        TJ Cox

Utah 04                                  Ben McAdams


Elected by 5,000 votes or fewer

Florida 26                             Debbie Mucarsel-Powell

Georgia 06                           Lucy McBath

Maine 02                               Jared Golden

New Mexico 03                    Xochitl Torres Small

New Jersey 03                    Andy Kim

New York 22                        Anthony Brindisi

Oklahoma 05                       Kendra Horn

South Carolina 01              Joe Cunningham


Elected by fewer than 10,000 votes

California 10                        Josh Harder

California 39                        Gil Cisneros

Iowa 03                                  Cynthia Axne

Virginia 07                            Abigail Spanberger


Elected by 15,000 votes or fewer

Illinois 14                              Lauren Underwood

Michigan 08                         Elissa Slotkin

Minnesota 07                       Collin Peterson

New York 11                        Max Rose

New York 19                        Anthony Delgado

Texas 07                              Lizzie Fletcher


Other close races

Illinois 08                              Sean Casten

Iowa 01                                  Abby Finkenauer

New Jersey 07                  Tom Malinowski

Texas 32                               Colin Allred

Washington 08                    Kim Schreier