Election preview: 7th District race between Lance and Malinowski a tossup

BY David Cruz, Senior Correspondent |

Incumbent 7th District Congressman Leonard Lance is fighting for his political life in another formerly secure Republican district. Unlike Rep. Tom MacArthur in the 3rd District, who’s only recently been pivoting to the center, Lance says he’s been the very model of a moderate New Jersey Republican. But his Democratic opponent Tom Malinowski has still made this race another too close to call.

“Sometimes you have to fight for something five, six, a dozen times before it gets done,” Malinowski said.

Malinowski, a former Obama administration official, says Leonard Lance is tired of keeping up appearances.

“It feels to me as if Congressman Lance gave up a long time ago,” he said. “Whether it’s building the Gateway Tunnel, or getting our property tax deductions back, or stopping the rising costs in health care. There’s just very little chance of any responsible bipartisan action on those issues if we re-elect him to enable the same leadership that has been so bad for New Jersey in the past.”

Rather than marching in lockstep with the president, Lance says he’s been an effective check on the executive branch, countering that Malinowski is a Nancy Pelosi Democrat.

“My guess is the Lance/Malinowski race and the MacArthur/Kim races are still in tossup territory,” said Nick Acocella, editor of Politifax. “Both sides in both races seem to have enough money to finish strong. The polls are all showing just a one or two point spread, so who knows what’s going to happen there.”

Despite several previous votes to the contrary, Lance voted against the final version of the Obamacare repeal and the president’s tax cut plan. His opponent says the incumbent has finally found religion in the last days of the campaign. But Lance says he has been and will continue to be a check on Trump.

“I have been critical of the president in several areas. And regarding the tenor of Washington, I’ve been critical where the president has tweeted inappropriately. I certainly was critical of Charlottesville,” Lance said.

Lance won re-election in 2016 by 11 points. Nobody believes that the margin of victory this year will get close to double figures.