In the span of six days, CD7 Democrat Linda Weber, fresh from a string of defeats and a disappointing fundraising quarter, accused rival Tom Malinowski of a felony, doubled down on the accusation, saw a hail of criticism for her campaign tactics, lost her own county’s endorsement and now, two days later, is suspending her race for her blue wave chance to take down Leonard Lance.
The stakes are very high in this district, one of only 23 in the nation held by a Republican, but also won by Hillary Clinton in 2016. CD7 has also been on the DCCC target list since last year.
Weber was awarded the Somerset and Essex lines in January; Essex on the strength of Dem Chair LeRoy Jones’ say-so, Somerset in an executive committee vote. Essex has only one town in the district, Millburn, so it is likely Jones will involve Millburn’s Democratic municipal chair in what to do now. Somerset has a meeting of elected county committee leaders scheduled for later this month. Malinowski, who came in second in Somerset’s January decision, won the Hunterdon convention 2-to-1 despite Chair Arlene Perez’ campaigning for Weber, then went on to win the party votes in both Warren and Morris – in Warren after a runoff with second-place finisher Goutam Jois.* Weber came in fourth in both of those contests. Malinowski had already moved into the frontrunner position; Weber’s accusations looked to many observers like a last-ditch effort to capture the attention of Union County’s Democratic leaders.
David Wildstein broke the news of Weber’s decision. From his post less than an hour ago:
Sources say that Weber has been calling party leaders notifying them of her decision this evening, two days after losing the Union County Democratic organization line by one vote. Her withdrawal narrows the field to four Democrats: Malinowski, attorney Goutam Jois, environmental activist David Pringle and 2016 nominee Peter Jacob.
Jois is considered the strongest rival to Malinowski, based on his fundraising and positive impressions on the campaign trail. The narrow contest in Union became toxic in the final few weeks and Jois could make a play for Weber supporters who might find it difficult to move to Malinowski so quickly/
Peter Jacob, who also ran in 2016, has endorsements from Justice Democrats and the local Our Revolution chapters. Environmentalists Dave Pringle got into the primary after much of it had already gelled. There is no filing yet for him at the FEC.
I don’t know what happens next in this district. I do know there are thousands of Democrats, independents, and even Republicans alienated by the direction President Trump and Congress are taking the country. The tremendous influx of newly-engaged people, those many people who now give their time to homegrown opposition research of Lance, who meet weekly for pizza with laptops open to Lance votes, those who march, lobby, organize, write postcards, and now see themselves as the Resistance … all these people have made this congressional cycle unlike any other. They’ve changed the electorate, they want their say, and they’re willing to work for change.
* Note: A member of my family is running the Jois campaign.