NJ Election 2020: District 7

New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District includes Hunterdon County and portions of Essex, Somerset, Morris, Union, and Warren counties. It was one of the four districts that Democrats flipped in the 2018 “blue wave” in the state.

Formerly a Republican stronghold, the district now leans slightly blue: 32% of registered voters are Democrats while 30% are Republicans. Unaffiliated voters are still the plurality at about 37%. Both national parties have targeted the race, with Democrats working to hold the seat and the GOP trying to retake it.

Median household income in the 7th is the second-highest in the state — almost $119,000 — and the district is the second most-educated as well, with more than 55% of those age 25 and over holding at least a bachelor’s degree.

Freshman incumbent Tom Malinowski was able to capitalize on a progressive wave in 2018 to knock off the Republican incumbent by 5 percentage points. Malinowski had no Democratic opponent in the primary

State Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean Jr. easily won a three-many GOP primary.


In his first term in Congress, Malinowski was formerly assistant secretary of state under President Barack Obama. He was born in Poland and came to the United States at age six, settling with family in Princeton. Malinowski was a Rhodes Scholar and Washington director for Human Rights Watch prior to joining the Obama administration.

Malinowski is considered a moderate Democrat and has defended the Affordable Care Act, voted to provide $1.1 trillion in direct relief to state and local governments, and has been pushing to restore the deduction for state and local taxes on federal income taxes. On his campaign website, Malinowski cites handling the COVID-19 pandemic as one of his major priorities, including getting more aid for businesses and governments and boosting the production of protective equipment in the United States. He also pledged to restore the federal income tax deduction for state and local taxes and close loopholes and work for a federal assault weapons ban and universal background checks.

The father of one daughter, Malinowski lives in Ringoes.

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The highest-ranking Republican in the state Legislature, Kean is the latest in his family’s long line to hold elected office. His father is the former governor and his grandfather a former congressman, and he can trace his roots  New Jersey’s first governor, William Livingston. He was first elected to the state Assembly in 2001 and has served in the state Senate since 2003, where he has been GOP leader since 2008. Kean also worked as a special assistant in the federal Environmental Protection Agency in the George H.W. Bush administration.

Kean’s website does not provide detailed positions on issues, but it notes his priorities will be health care, fiscal responsibility, jobs, environmental protection and infrastructure improvement. Kean has been supportive of President Trump, attending a rally in Wildwood in January. His website boasts endorsements from dozens of establishment Republicans.

Kean holds a master’s degree in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Westfield. This is his third attempt at federal office.

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