Former Smith Intern Gets Monmouth County Dems’ Nod to Challenge His Re-election

A former intern for Rep. Chris Smith (R-4) has received the Monmouth County Democratic CD4 Vetting Committee’s endorsement for the nomination to challenge him next year in his bid to win a 21st term. The “dean” of New Jersey’s congressional delegation, Smith is currently 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 an attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. She spent seven years in the U.S. Foreign Service with postings in Haiti and Brazil before resigning rather than represent 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.

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.

Smith currently has $416,711 cash-on-hand, the most he’s ever had in the 3rd quarter in the year before a congressional election. He raised $145,549 over the last three months, and $560,819 so far this year.

Welle has given no indication he’ll pursue a rematch and was not among those interviewed by the Monmouth committee but Schmid still faces a number of Democrats that have entered the race including: David Applefield, a Financial Times writer from Red Bank; Christina Conforti, a holistic leadership and business coach from Ocean Grove; Tiffany Kaszuba, a Capitol Hill lobbyist from Howell; Jim Keady, a tavern owner and human rights activist from Spring Lake who lost to Welle in last year’s primary; and Hassan Shehadeh, a Johnson & Johnson executive and unsuccessful school board candidate from Freehold.  

The Monmouth County Democratic CD4 Vetting Committee was compromised of the Democratic committee chairs from Fair Haven, Freehold Borough, Middletown, Neptune, Rumson and Wall.

While Monmouth County constitutes the majority of the fourth district with 34 towns, the district also includes seven towns in Ocean and two in Mercer counties.

Republicans have carried the district handily in the past four president elections, with Donald Trump winning it by fifteen percentage points in 2016.