TRENTON, N.J. – The Republican Party lost five U.S. House seats over four years in New Jersey. Four of the five districts voted for Donald Trump in 2016.
Now the GOP wants them back. All of them.
On Monday, the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) launched an ad targeting NJ-07 (held by Tom Malinowski), leveling a direct attack at the freshman Democrat incumbent who Republicans believe is among the most vulnerable in the country in November 2020. Early attacks are designed to soften up targeted opponents during a period when the opposition hasn’t yet chosen a nominee.
The new ad assault comes on the same day that the NRCC released an internal poll claiming Malinowski trailing an unnamed Republican candidate 44% to 42%. New Jersey Globe has the memo here.
Whom the Republicans ultimately choose to run in NJ-07 may prove dispositive.
The front runner in Central Jersey’s NJ-07 – the one targeted New Jersey district not carried by Donald Trump last time around – is Tom Kean Jr., son of former Governor Thomas H. Kean and the current GOP State Senate minority leader. Kean recently launched the campaign and is beginning to compile endorsements. Malinowski defeated long-time N.J. GOP elected official Leonard Lance in 2018.
The NRCC is targeting NJ-03 (Kim), NJ-2 (Van Drew), NJ-5 (Gottheimer), and NJ-11 (Sherrill) this upcoming cycle in addition to the 3rd and 7th, making the Garden State a likely leading battleground in the battle for House control notwithstanding the state’s strong Democrat orientation in presidential contests; New Jersey hasn’t voted Republican for president since 1988.