Former Intern Wants to Unseat Her Old Boss, Rep. Smith

A former intern for Rep. Chris Smith (R-4) is expected to announce her candidacy for the Democratic nomination to challenge him next year in his bid to win a 21st term. The “dean” of New Jersey’s congressional delegation, Smith is also the delegation’s lone Republican after Democrats captured four additional House seats in last year’s mid-term elections.

A former foreign service officer, Stephanie Schmid of Little Silver is currently an attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. She plans a formal campaign launch on September 7th.

She spent seven years in the U.S. Foreign Service with postings in Haiti and Brazil before resigning rather than representing the country under the auspices of what she describes as “the reproductive rights-attacking Trump Administration.”

Smith has been an outspoken supporter of the right-to-life movement throughout his more than forty years in politics. When the 16-year-old Schmid interned for him, she realized she didn’t have the same values when it came to women’s reproductive rights.

Democrats thought they had a chance to unseat Smith last year when Democrat newcomer Josh Welle raised $1.8 million. Smith ultimately raised $1.5 million and won by 12 percentage points. As of the latest reporting, Smith has $319,122 in his campaign war chest.

On his second attempt, the then 27-year-old Smith was elected to Congress in 1980 defeating thirteen-term incumbent Rep. Frank Thompson, Jr. (D-4) who was on trial for bribery and conspiracy as part of the Abscam sting.  Smith defeated Thompson by 16 percentage points while Ronald Reagan carried the district by only three points.

Now 66, Smith is still younger than five other delegation members, including freshman Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-2).

The 4th is the only House district in the state to become more Republican over the last decade.

Although Welle has given no indication he’ll pursue a rematch, Schmid will face a number of Democrats that have already entered the race including: David Applefield, a Financial Times writer from Red Bank; Tiffany Kaszuba, a Capitol Hill lobbyist from Howell; and Christina Conforti, a holistic leadership and business coach from Ocean Grove.