Smith Didn’t Toe Party Line, But Colleagues Help His Son

Posted February 3, 2004 at 5:58pm

Rep. Nick Smith’s (R-Mich.) refusal to toe the party line on Medicare does not seem to be hurting his son’s campaign to succeed him in Congress — at least not in the eyes of some of Nick Smith’s colleagues.

Attorney Brad Smith reported receiving just less than $10,000 from Members’ campaign committees or leadership political action committees in 2003 for his five-way Republican primary in Michigan’s 7th district. Add money from his father, and that amount rises to $13,000.

Nick Smith is retiring after six terms in Congress.

“So far there’s been only one development that impacted me negatively” as a result of November’s Medicare vote, Brad Smith said.

Declining to elaborate, the younger Smith said it was in the fundraising realm but said the individual was not a Member.

In late November, the elder Smith voted against the conference report to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare, much to the Republican leadership’s chagrin.

He said at the time that fellow Members of Congress offered him “support” in the form of $100,000 for his son’s candidacy if he voted for the bill and promised repercussions against his offspring if he did not vote for it.

Nick Smith later changed his story and said that no specific amount had been offered and refused to name names.

Some of the contributions to Brad Smith were made before the infamous, three-hour vote, and some were made after.

Brad Smith has not held a Washington, D.C., fundraiser but picked up the contributions by soliciting them himself over the telephone.

“The people I’ve approached for help … those are the people contributing,” he said.

Plenty of people have turned him down, he said, but none because of Nick Smith’s “nay” vote.

According to Brad Smith’s campaign filing, the biggest source of help has come from the candidate and his family.

Smith loaned himself $100,000 to kick off his campaign on Sept. 30. He officially entered the race Oct. 14.

Since then, he has raised another $100,000 and ended 2003 with $189,000 in the bank.

Nick Smith has donated $3,000, his wife kicked in $4,000 and a family friend who listed herself as a “cleaning lady” for Brad Smith’s wife, Diane, donated $500. Furthermore, Nick Smith’s chief of staff, Kurt Schmautz, has contributed $1,000.

As for Members, Rep. Sue Kelly (R-N.Y.) has kicked in $2,000 while Reps. Jim Walsh (R-N.Y.), Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) and George Nethercutt (R-Wash.) all chipped in $1,000.

Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) gave $750, Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) and Rep. John McHugh (R-N.Y.) both donated $500, as did Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.).

Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) contributed $300 and Rep. Ron Lewis (R-Ky.) gave $250.

Finally, Rep. Don Young’s (R-Alaska) Midnight Sun PAC gave $1,000, as did Rep. Bill Young’s (R-Fla.) Victory PAC.

“I think it will help me that I didn’t want to get to Congress that way,” Brad Smith said of his father’s refusal to change his vote to help his son.

Furthermore, Smith said some Republicans who were arm-twisted into voting for the proposal now wish they had not and will certainly not hold the father’s vote against the son.

“A lot of Members are really regretting that ‘yes’ vote,” he said.

Brad Smith’s fundraising apparatus seems to be the one to watch in the Republican primary.

His closest competitor, state Rep. Gene DeRossett (R), ended the year with the most money in the bank but his fundraising slowed considerably in the fourth quarter.

DeRossett closed 2003 with a little more than $276,000 on hand but only raised about $52,000 in the final quarter — after Brad Smith entered the race — and $25,000 of that was a loan DeRossett made to his campaign.

For the cycle, DeRossett has loaned his campaign $221,000.

State Rep. Clark Bisbee (R) ended the year with almost $118,000 in the bank and has only loaned his campaign a total of $10,000.

Former state Rep. Paul DeWeese (R) raised almost $91,000 in 2003 but only had about $20,000 left on Dec. 31. Former state Rep. Tim Walberg (R) had a little more than $32,000 in the bank.

“We’re doing very well … I’m very happy,” Smith said.