BRIDGEWATER, N.J – At a virtual primary night event attended by more than 400 supporters yesterday Congressman Tom Malinowski accepted the Democratic nomination for re-election in CD-7.
Malinowski highlighted his relentless advocacy on behalf of the people of New Jersey–to expand access to affordable healthcare, fund the Gateway Tunnel project into New York, restore the SALT deduction, and provide relief to workers and small businesses struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.
He also drew sharp contrast with his opponent, Tom Kean, Jr., who has spent his twenty-year career in Trenton bowing to party bosses and only looking out for himself. Kean has already begun attempts to rewrite his out of touch, destructive record.
Malinowski’s remarks followed those of local activist Uyen “Winn” Khuong, Clinton Mayor Janice Kovach, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Governor Phil Murphy.
A video of the remarks can be found here, and a transcript is below.
“I know you all don’t want a big political stump speech, and given what we’re experiencing as a country right now I don’t think anyone does. Leader Hoyer, our good friend and Whip in the House, Jim Clyburn, often tells us that in politics you have to do three things: tell them what you’re going to do, do it, and then tell them what you’ve done. I think at the heart of every campaign, that’s what we have to do. I am confident in this race because I know that we have done what we said that we would do. This year is different than 2018–I can run on my record. I can run on our record as the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives.
What did we say we were going to do? We said we were going to protect healthcare and the Affordable Care Act. We did that. The Trump administration is in court right now trying to strike that law down and take healthcare away from millions of Americans in the middle of a health crisis. We have consistently protected it, and we passed bill after bill after bill to improve that law and lower the cost of prescription drugs for our constituents.
We said that we would protect our kids and our families from gun violence and we did. We passed the first meaningful piece of gun violence prevention legislation in Congress in over two decades: universal background checks. We said we would protect Social Security and Medicare and we did. We said we would protect the human rights of the American people and we did, we passed the DREAM Act, the Equality Act, equal pay for equal work.
And yes, as Steny and the Governor mentioned, I said I would fight for my constituents in New Jersey and that we would try to restore the SALT deduction. The House passed that bill. That would not have happened with a Republican majority, and no one in the 7th District wants to go back to a majority in the House of Representatives that did that to New Jersey.
No one wants to go back to a majority that didn’t care about investing in our infrastructure. We promised we would, and as you heard from Leader Hoyer we have been relentless in pushing for the Gateway Tunnel. We have gotten the money and the approval against all out resistance from the Trump administration for the first stage of that Project, the Portal Bridge, and we will get the rest no matter who is in the White House because we’ve elected leaders from New Jersey who are going to fight for it and won’t take no for an answer.
And when the coronavirus hit us, none of us wanted to be in this situation, but we stepped up. We fought for our small towns and our rural counties that are so important in New Jersey. We passed the HEROES Act with everything New Jersey needs to stay financially afloat through this crisis as we beat back this disease. And I’m so proud of our team, including many people who are on this call, who are working day and night over these last three or four months to make sure that every single person who has lost a job in our district gets the help they need, every single small business that is entitled to help under the legislation we passed gets it. We have helped well over a thousand people to get the help that we promised.
So that’s my record. I’m proud to run on it. I’ve got an opponent who doesn’t like to talk about issues, who doesn’t have press conferences and doesn’t do town halls. I’ve done over fifty town halls by the way, since I was elected. But he does have a record. He’s a career politician who has spent the last twenty years as a legislator in Trenton, so we know what he stands for.
When New Jersey tried to legislate the protections of the Affordable Care Act so that everyone in our state would have that security in their healthcare, he voted no. When we were this close from actually having a new railway tunnel between New Jersey and New York, it was called the ARC Tunnel then, he supported Chris Christie in cancelling that project. We had the money and it was ready to go. It would have been built right now. He was on the wrong side.
He’s had an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association. Try to explain that to moms and dads in Summit and Westfield and Somerville who are afraid of what might happen to our kids in this era of mass shootings.
He’s opposed a woman’s right to choose. He’s opposed marriage equality consistently throughout his career. Well last week he said he regretted having opposed LGBT rights. That’s nice, but I wonder what came about to cause him to have such a change of heart. Here’s the problem: there are not enough days between now and November third for him to regret every single vote he has taken over the last two decades that are inconsistent with the values of the people of the 7th district.
Now if this were a normal election that would be enough. I’ve got my record, he’s got his record, we can talk about the issues and where we disagree on policy. But of course, as we’ve heard from Leader Hoyer, this isn’t a normal election or a normal time in our country.
So many of our fellow Americans are asking right now, “What is happening to our country?” Democrats and Republicans have always had disagreements. Sometimes we disagree passionately about the issues, but most of our leaders in the history of this great country knew when they were elected that they were supposed to be responsible and do their jobs. They were supposed to tell the truth, and if they didn’t they were supposed to be ashamed of that. They were supposed to respect the law and put our country and its interests first–ahead of their own selfish personal concerns.
Now this isn’t just about a bunch of mean tweets, although I’m sure all of us would agree we need a little bit less meanness in our political discourse in this country right now. This is about a hundred plus thousand dead Americans. It’s about almost forty million Americans having lost their jobs. It’s about America being the only advanced democracy on the planet that is failing to get this pandemic under control as the leader of our country says “I am not responsible. I am not responsible.’”
And we hear in the last few days that what the White House wants as it heads into this election is for the American people to become numb to the suffering that we are experiencing because of this complete abdication of responsibility at the highest levels of our country. Well if you know anything about me, it’s I’m not going to be numb. I’m not going to be numb when I see Americans suffering and dying. I’m not going to be numb when I see Russia putting bounties on our troops and the President would rather protect dead confederate generals and their reputations than protect our men and women in uniform serving around the world.
If there’s one thing I know about the people I represent, it’s that they don’t want a leader who is numb. They want a leader who will look them in the eye when these things are happening in the country and say “this is right and that is wrong” – that’s what I’ve always done. When the President last year called out Members of Congress who looked not like me and said they should go home to their countries, I led the House in passing the first resolution that either house of Congress has passed condemning a sitting President of the United States since before World War I. And when the President sold out our country for campaign dirt against his potential presidential opponent, I put my constitutional duty ahead of any personal political interest that I might have.
Now here’s why this matters in a congressional race. Because I firmly believe this actually isn’t about Donald Trump, that what has happened to our country, what is making us anxious, is not the fault of one powerful man, it is the fault of all of the little men who go along, who enable it, who allow it to happen, who bury their heads in the sand because it’s easier and more convenient for them to do that.
Nobody–certainly not Donald Trump–forced the governors of Texas and Georgia and Florida and Oklahoma to reopen their economies before it was safe, thus endangering all of the rest of us. Nobody put a gun to their heads. They made that choice. They chose to go along. They chose to do what was easier for them rather than right for the people that they are supposed to represent.
My opponent has made the same choice. He probably knows better, and that’s what makes it worse. He made that same choice when he went to that Trump rally in Wildwood, New Jersey back at the beginning of the year, the very moment when the coronavirus was starting to hit us, and the President was out there saying it was a hoax. This was long after we saw babies taken from their moms and dads at the border, long after the president had said that white supremacists and anti-Semites are “fine people”. He knew, we knew, what this President was and yet that’s the person he chose to stand up and cheer and to say should be the leader of our country for the next four years, showing once again what all of us have known watching this man’s career over the years in Trenton: that he’s more interested in getting a job than in the purpose of that job.
Well I wouldn’t be surprised, I have to say, if in the coming weeks as this campaign continues Tom Kean Jr. decides to make a different choice about this President and what’s going on in this country. After all, the consultants who tell him what to say, they see what’s going on, they understand how the district is changing and they see the polls. But if he does, it’s going to be another act of convenience, another act of cowardice. It’s not going to be an act of conviction.
The time has long, long passed. It’s too late to make a different choice, and if he does, I don’t think it’s going to change any minds. I don’t think it’s going to work in this district. We do not want another weathervane representing the 7th Congressional District because we know that a weathervane cannot change the way the wind is blowing. What we need in this country right now, desperately, is leaders who will change the way the wind is blowing.
Now, it’s not going to be easy, but we have a strong case. We have a strong campaign. And I’m so, so proud of all of you and all of the volunteers out there. As you know, we don’t have an opponent in the primary, yet our volunteers still made 20,000 phone calls just to get people to the polls, just to get people to exercise our constitutional right and duty to show how committed we are to keeping this seat and to changing our government this November. I am so, so grateful to you.
If we can do that for this Primary, I know what we can do in November. But it’s not going to be easy. Social distancing, which we will probably still be practicing through the fall because of all of the irresponsible decisions being made outside of New Jersey, is not conducive to the kind of campaign that we love to run with thousands of volunteers going out there knocking on doors. The other side can’t do that, so if we can’t do that, that’s a disadvantage. And as you know, this is an expensive campaign and I’m the only candidate in this race who will not accept a single penny from corporate PACS. I depend on people like you, on ordinary people who are in this because of conviction.
But I’m still hopeful and I’m still confident. We heard the Governor mention the Black Lives Matter rally that we attended together in Westfield. I marched in five of those in the district at the height of those wonderful peaceful protests. And at every single one of them I saw young people pulling their parents along. They were passionate and some of them were angry, but when they got up to speak, there was one thing that broke through every single time from every one of those 15, 16, 17, 19, 20 year old young people. They said vote. You’re angry. You’re upset. You’re disappointed. Vote. It’s on you. It’s on us.
We are seeing, in the midst of all of the stuff that’s making us anxious, we’re seeing this extraordinary reawakening of civic responsibility in our country. Despite the voter suppression, despite coronavirus, overwhelming numbers of people are coming out to vote. Record numbers of people. Not to mention all the folks who are volunteering, who are running for office, who are civically engaged in ways that they weren’t before.
An overwhelming majority of us want to restore good sense and civility to this country. The overwhelming majority–Democrats and Republicans– in the coronavirus crisis want us to protect public health above all, whatever the president or whatever Fox News may say. So we should be hopeful because the American people are reminding us every single day they have not lost confidence and faith in American democracy and they are prepared to do what it takes to get it back.
We are one election away from being able to do that. One election away from restoring decency to this country. One election away from having competent, sane, principled leaders who will tell the truth, who will respect the law, who will put the country and the country’s interests ahead of themselves. One election away from not having to think about elections every single day, from not having to think about politics every single day, which I think the vast majority of us would love to be able to do.
I’m thankful, so thankful to all of you who are helping us get this far and for taking that enormous first step in 2018. We knew it would be just the first step. We knew it was the trial run for 2020. This is the test. We are ready. We will pass it thanks to you.”