NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- The race for New Jersey's 7th Congressional District between incumbent Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski and Republican former state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. was still up in the air Tuesday night.
But by early Wednesday, with 99% of precincts reporting, ABC News had called the race for Kean 52% - 48%.
Malinowski released the following statement Wednesday morning congratulating Kean:
I am deeply grateful to the people of the 7th District for the honor of representing you, and I congratulate Congressman-Elect Kean. This was a campaign of people and principles. It was, as in my other campaigns, built from the grass roots up and spoke directly to the concerns and hopes of hardworking people all across our region. While we did as well or better than in 2020 in the communities I have represented these last four years, and I expect the results to tighten further as all votes are counted, the new district proved too much of a hurdle to overcome. I'm gratified that across the country, Americans chose moderation over MAGA, while passing referenda protecting a woman's right to choose. Our democracy and our freedoms are in stronger shape today than many predicted. And our achievements of the last few years, from infrastructure, to health care, to fighting climate change, are more secure.
Shortly before midnight Tuesday, Kean took the stage at campaign headquarters and appeared to claim victory.
"We have been given an opportunity to change the course of history," he said. "My solemn pledge to you will always be to serve with dignity, to listen, to learn and to earn this responsibility."
Malinowski cast Kean as too reliant on support from voters loyal to former President Donald Trump to represent the district, which swung from reliably GOP to Democratic control during his years in the White House.
Kean has seized on inflation as a top issue and hammers on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom he was betting is unpopular with voters.
Malinowski is a former Obama administration official and supported impeaching Trump as well the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that Democratic President Joe Biden signed a year ago.
Kean served as the top Republican in the state Senate from 2008 until this year after declining to seek office again in last year's election.
Malinowski, who is seeking his third term, narrowly defeated Kean, a former state lawmaker and the son of former Republican Gov. Tom Kean Sr., in 2020. Malinowski first won election by defeating Republican incumbent Rep. Leonard Lance in 2018.
The district picked up more Republican voters after its boundaries in the northwest were redrawn.
New Jersey's 12 U.S. House races were atop the ticket for voters who wrapped up casting ballots on Tuesday in this year's midterm contest.
This race was being watched closely all across the country with some saying it would be good indicator of the Republican Party hopes nationwide.
Kean was counting on his name and advantage in numbers to win, and his campaign has relied a lot on money coming into the state from the national Republican Party.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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