TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Republican Tom Kean Jr. has defeated incumbent Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski to win a U.S. House seat representing the sprawling 7th District in New Jersey.
The Associated Press called the race for Kean, the son of a popular former Republican governor of New Jersey, at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Kean’s victory in Tuesday's midterm elections comes two years after he narrowly lost to Malinowski and more than two decades after he first sought election to Congress.
Kean claimed victory in a speech to supporters shortly before midnight Tuesday. Malinowski conceded on Wednesday and congratulated Kean.
“Throughout this district and throughout this nation, we have been given an opportunity to change the course of history,” Kean said late Tuesday. He promised to work “to steer this nation towards greater opportunity, security and prosperity.”
Malinowski was vying for a third term amid serious headwinds: high inflation, sagging approval ratings for Democratic President Joe Biden and a redrawn district that favored Republicans.
Malinowski cast Kean as too beholden to hardcore supporters of former President Donald Trump and warned that if Kean and Republicans won control of the House, they would focus on investigating Biden and stymying his legislative agenda.
That strategy faltered.
In a statement on Twitter, Malinowski said the redistricting that added significant numbers of additional Republicans to the 7th District led to his defeat.
“We did as well or better than in 2020 in the communities I’ve represented these last four years, but the new district proved too much of a hurdle,” he said.
The redrawn district includes all of Hunterdon County, and parts of Essex, Morris, Somerset, Union, and Warren counties.
Kean served as the top GOP senator in the Legislature from 2008 until earlier this year, when he retired from the statehouse to seek the House seat. He previously ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate against Democrat Bob Menendez in 2006. He ran for the House in 2000, but lost in a primary that year. In 2020, he came within about 1 percentage point of defeating Malinowski.
In other races, incumbents were reelected to House seats in balloting that also saw Menendez's son Robert 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.
Robert Menendez, a Democrat like his senator father, won in the 8th District, which includes parts of Newark, Jersey City and Elizabeth. The seat was opened by the retirement of Democratic 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, which 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 reelection 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 the AP’s coverage of the midterm elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and check out https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections to learn more about the issues and factors at play.