BREAKING: CD7 – Lisa Mandelblatt drops out of race for Congress

Above, Lisa Mandelblatt seated next to Tom Malinowski in Flemington late last year.


Her voice breaking, tears flowing, Lisa Mandelblatt has dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination for the 7th congressional district and the chance to run against Republican Leonard Lance in November. She endorsed Tom Malinowski.

Mandelblatt, who was one of the earliest people in the race, made her announcement on the auditorium stage of Springfield’s Dayton High School, her alma mater and where she was once voted Most Likely to Succeed.

But before she encouraged her voters to join the Malinowski campaign, there were shouts from the audience, the longer her speech went on at the podium, for her to “shut up,” “stop talking,” and “get off the stage.”

Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like it. It wasn’t that long a speech, and – clearly – Mandelblatt was making news, which it’s likely nothing else that happens here tonight will.

Tom Malinowski, who appeared surprised by the announcement, graciously accepted her support.

Comments (12)

  1. vmars

    A person in the room told me they were standing near Colston Reid — Malinowski’s campaign manager — and she said she had no idea it was coming.

    Reply
  2. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

    100%.

    Reply
  3. A G

    Liars all. I have it on good source that the Malinowski campaign knew.

    Reply
    1. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      I hope you’re not calling me a liar, because I’m reporting what I saw, and you’d be out of line. I think it was pretty obvious nobody knew that was coming. If Malinowski knew, I think he’d have made better hay out of it than he did. The Union County folks there did not seem to know, and I don’t believe any of the other candidates knew, either.

      Reply
  4. Doris

    What kind of event was this, where people thought it was appropriate to heckle a candidate announcing her withdrawal from the race?!

    Reply
    1. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      In fairness to audience and moderator, who was actively trying to get the forum back on schedule, Mandelblatt’s statement did go on perhaps longer than it might. That doesn’t change my opinion of the audience response much though. Politics aint beanbag, but in my book it’s never OK to shout at a person who is clearly emotional, and maybe having one of the worst moments of her life.

      I have not been a candidate, but I have been campaign staff for a seated congressman, and I live with a person who has been a candidate, an elected, a party chair, and a congressional campaign manager. And I think that those of us who don’t for whatever reason stand for office ourselves may not even recognize what it takes to be the person who runs for office – particularly federal office. All of these candidates have made enormous sacrifices in their work and home lives, put themselves on the line and are subject not only to the possibility of enormous reward but also ridicule and harsh criticism. I’m not suggesting Mandelblatt or any other person running isn’t ‘up to it,’ – and I would certainly never make some crack about the fact that a woman candidate last night was crying at the podium. I’m just saying, man or woman, there’s a time when we who haven’t put ourselves up there should recognize somebody’s maybe struggling with a difficult speech they never expected to have to say. Give a little room, some respect, say thank you, and then move on. Shouting at her didn’t hurry her off stage; I think it just made it worse.

      Reply
  5. JDen

    I was there, too. I thought it was highly inappropriate to hijack the event. Instead of taking a table mic, as the previous 2 candidates had for their opening statements, she went to the podium and took it over. Then after she announced the end of her campaign, went on to endorse Malinowski at length. That’s when the booing started. Despite her theatrics, this was still supposed to be a neutral candidates’ forum where each candidate was due a neutral, objective playing field. She then began to name and thank members of her campaign staff, which was absolutely inappropriate. That’s when the audience had had enough. Her actions reflected poor judgement, a lack of respect for the remaining candidates, and contempt for the panel organizers.

    Reply
  6. Joseph

    Lots of grey areas about which we may not agree:
    1. The message was appropriate: After all, where else do you withdraw and endorse than in a public setting with all the interested parties present and listening?
    2. Lisa might have provided a little advanced note to the moderator to allow the extra 5 minutes she needed with the understanding that she was forfeiting all the rest of her time at the mic for the evening. (We were all on the same side and it was only the surprise that generated the hostility.) Had the moderator known this, she could have helped smoothed the event.
    3. The assumption of self-indulgence was justified, given the circumstances and level of communication. Lisa was uncharacteristically insistent in holding her place at the mic, so it was clear that something unusual was “up.” I agree that using the message time to thank her campaign staff diminished both the message and respect for the setting.
    4. I was pleasantly surprised and encouraged by the audience, however, that once it was clear what had happened, harangue turned to applause as Lisa moved from podium to seat and then once again when she left her place on stage for the last time a few minutes later.
    It was not an easy moment to anticipate all reactions, except for lots of sharp hind-sight, of course.

    Reply
  7. M French

    Why would she drop out? She raised the most money and seemed to have westfield locked up?

    Reply
    1. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      She was successful raising money, and also loaned her campaign several hundred thousand dollars if I’m remembering right. But winning a congressional primary is about more than only money. Lisa got in the race early, and has put in a great deal of time visiting with, talking with, and getting to know party people and grassroots groups throughout the district. And yes, she had a stronghold of support in Westfield. But the 7th congressional district is a lot bigger than just Westfield, and just part of Union County. CD7 is all or part of six counties; Hunterdon (all), Somerset (17 towns), Essex (1 town), Morris (11 towns), Union (a dozen towns besides Westfield), Warren (7 towns).

      Linda Weber has been given the county party line by the chairs in Essex and Somerset. The first county party to have an actual convention was Hunterdon, last week. Tom Malinowski won that by a wide margin, while Mandelblatt got zero votes. I haven’t spoken to Lisa since the announcement, but zero votes in a county where you’ve been as present as she has been is a big blow.

      Reply
    2. Bertin Lefkovic

      If you take her at her word and believe that she thinks that Malinowski is preferable to Weber, it makes some sense. While some would think that having her in the race, splitting the female vote, would have benefitted Malinowski, if Mandelblatt had been given the line in Union County as some observers of the race for Chair of the Union County Democrats have speculated she might in return for Westfield’s Democratic committeepersons backing State Senator Nick Scutari, it would have thrown the race wide open.

      However, if Malinowski gets the line in Union County, there is a very good chance that the same anti-democratic forces in Essex and Somerset Counties that gave Weber the line there may just as quickly threaten to pull their support if she doesn’t end her candidacy or at the very least claim that they are listening to their committeepersons by holding a convention, which most certainly would not play to Weber’s strengths.

      The only way that Mandelblatt’s decision backfires on Malinowski is if Union County gives the line to Weber, which is entirely possible. In any other year, Union County has never shied away from its role as kingmaker, but considering the state of chaos that the county party is in at the moment, this is clearly not any other year.

      In fact, the only reason that their current leadership won’t pass on making the decision themselves is because they won’t want to put even more pressure than there already is on their cronies in Somerset County, who historically have been the most small-d democratic organization in the district until this year.

      Reply
  8. Ben Auletta

    https://www.facebook.com/unioncountydems/videos/1761838503867493/
    go to 19:23 in to see lisa’s speech and the yelling. Make your own opinion of what when down

    Reply

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