Six NJ-7-auch rans spent over $500,000 to face off against Malinowski

Six Republicans collectively raised more than $500,000 to wrestle the Republican nomination for the New Jersey 7th congressional district from early frontrunner, former Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr.

Kean won the June Republican primary with 46%, defeating his closest rival Phil Rizzo (24%) by 11,625 votes and 22 percentage points. MP Erik Peterson (R-Franklin) was third with 15%, followed by Fredon Mayor John Flora (5.5%), businessman/people John Henry Isemann (5%), builder Kevin Dorland (4%) and US Navy veteran Sterling Irwin Schwab, who received less than one percent of the vote.

Rizzo, the former Mountebank Church/Great Vicarage minister, raised $261,860 for his convention bid, including more than $51,000 in general election funds that he returned to donors. Rizzo was a real estate developer before becoming a minister at a now-defunct Hudson County church and put no money of his own into his campaign.

Originally a candidate in the 11th district against Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair), Rizzo moved to the 7th district in January after the new congressional card was approved.

Rizzo sold his Harding County home to the City Baptist Church for $1.65 million in 2017, exempting the home from property taxes but continuing to live there. The tax exemption was lifted in May.

This was Rizzo’s second loss. In 2021, Jack Ciattarelli defeated him in the Republican gubernatorial primary by 24 points.

Isemann, a promising 27-year-old first-time candidate, raised $128,309, including $13,323, which he returned to his donors for the general election.

Peterson took in $68,595 for his convention run. Two of his Assembly colleagues, Greg McGuckin (R-Toms River) and Both Auth (R-Old Tappan), along with former Assemblyman Samuel Fiocchi (R-Vineland), contributed to Peterson. He had collected no general election money.

Flora reported raising $9,781 as of May 18, but has not yet filed its second-quarter financial report with the Federal Elections Commission. That was due on July 15.

As a first-time candidate, Dorlan raised $33,646, including a $2,000 personal loan, which he repaid with unspent dollars after the primary.

Schwab hasn’t filed campaign financial reports, an indication that he never reached the $5,000 mark.

Robert Trugman, a Summit businessman who has been a running candidate for Congress since 1982, raised $20,645, including a $12,500 personal loan, but dropped out before the filing deadline and supported Kean.

Roger Bacon, a permanent candidate who ran as a pro-Trump Democrat in the primary against Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes), never filed with the Federal Election Commission. Malinowski received 944% of the votes.

An independent contestant, Veronica Fernandez, raised $3,815 — 80% of it from herself — and has $1,110 in cash.

Kean raised $2,694,667 for his rematch against Malinowski. He came within a percentage point of overthrowing the Democratic congressman two years ago. He now has $1,309,725 in cash on hand. He appears to have spent around $550,000 on his main bid.

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