Tom Malinowski, an Obama-era State Department official, has defeated five-term Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) after persistently linking his opponent to President Trump, whose Bedminster golf club is based in the district. Trump’s unpopularity became the defining issue of the campaign.
Lance spent the race touting his bipartisan credentials and his readiness to break with Trump on key issues, such as the GOP tax bill and legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Malinowski rejected such claims, arguing a vote for Lance was a vote for vote for Trump’s agenda. “I don’t see Republicans like Lance, who claim moderation, making any effective, concerted effort to lead their party back from where the president has taken it,” he said.
Malinowski sought to assume the mantle of bipartisanship himself, running ads that showed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) praising his efforts at combating torture. The 53-year-old previously served as Washington director of Human Rights Watch. He also campaigned heavily on health care and protecting preexisting conditions.
In a wealthy suburban district where a considerable majority have college degrees, Lance’s reelection bid was seen as a wider vote on the future of moderate Republicans in New Jersey, a state that Hillary Clinton won by double digits.