TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Democratic incumbent Andy Kim defeated his GOP challenger and won a third term in Congress Tuesday night, promising to try to “heal this country.”
In one of the two most closely watched races in the state, Kim won in the newly drawn 3rd District in southern and central New Jersey, which includes more Democratic voters than the previous district’s boundaries.
The other, pitting incumbent Tom Malinowski against Republican Tom Kean Jr., had not been decided as of midnight, but Kean claimed victory in a speech to supporters.
Kim’s win over Bob Healey, an executive at a yacht maker in southern New Jersey, bolsters Democrats in a year when they faced serious headwinds, including inflation and sagging approval ratings for Democratic President Joe Biden.
“I believe we can heal this country,” Kim told supporters Tuesday night. “I believe it's possible. What I don't believe is, I don't believe my kids are doomed to grow up in a divided America. What is happening right now doesn't have to be this way."
Kim made headlines in the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol when colleagues and others found him helping clean up the mess around the building.
The other closely watched race, in New Jersey and nationally, pitted Democratic incumbent Malinowski trying to hold off a strong challenge from Republican former state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. in the 7th district.
The Associated Press has not called the race for either candidate. But shortly before midnight, Kean took the stage at campaign headquarters and appeared to claim victory.
“We have been given an opportunity to change the course of history,” he said. “My solemn pledge to you will always be to serve with dignity, to listen, to learn and to earn this responsibility.”
Moments later, Malinowski said the race remained “too close to call.”
“It's 11:45 on election night and we're still standing,” he said.
Malinowski cast Kean as too reliant on support from voters loyal to former President Donald Trump to represent the district, which swung from reliably GOP to Democratic control during his years in the White House. Kean has seized on inflation as a top issue and hammers on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom he is betting is unpopular with voters.
Malinowski is a former Obama administration official and supported impeaching Trump as well the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that Democratic President Joe Biden signed a year ago.
Kean served as the top Republican in the state Senate from 2008 until this year after declining to seek office again in last year’s election.
Malinowski, who is seeking his third term, narrowly defeated Kean, a former state lawmaker and the son of former Republican Gov. Tom Kean Sr., in 2020. Malinowski first won election by defeating Republican incumbent Rep. Leonard Lance in 2018.
The district picked up more Republican voters after its boundaries in the northwest were redrawn.
In other races, incumbents were re-elected to House seats in balloting that also saw the son of Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez elected to Congress.
Republican Christopher Smith won a 22nd term in the 4th District, stretching from the central Jersey Shore to the capitol region of Trenton.
Democrat Robert Menendez won in the 8th District, which includes parts of Newark, Jersey City and Elizabeth. The seat was opened by the retirement of Rep. Albio Sires.
The younger Menendez is an attorney in private practice and serves as a commissioner at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the region’s airports, ports and tunnels. He defeated Republican Marcos Arroyo and five others in the district.
Democrat Frank Pallone Jr. won a 19th term in the 6th District that includes parts of the Jersey Shore and Middlesex County.
Democrat Donald Norcross won reelection in the 1st District in southwestern New Jersey, and Democrat Donald Payne Jr, won a seventh term in the 10th District, which includes portions of Essex, Hudson and Union counties, and includes the cities of Newark and Orange.
Democrat Bill Pascrell won a new term in the 9th District, which includes his hometown of Paterson.
Mikie Sherrill won re-election in the 11th District in the northern part of the state; Josh Gottheimer won in the 5th, and Bonnie Watson Coleman won in the 12th. All are Democratic incumbents.
Republican Jeff VanDrew was reelected in the 2nd district.
Democrats were defending 10 seats to the Republicans' two in the first election since congressional districts were redrawn after the 2020 census.
Follow AP’s coverage of the elections at: https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections