Campaigns

Former intern for Rep. Chris Smith to run against him

Incumbent is last Republican left in New Jersey delegation after Democrats flipped 4 seats in 2018

Rep. Christopher H. Smith’s 13-point win in 2018 was his smallest margin of victory in decades. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A former intern for GOP Rep. Christopher H. Smith is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge him next fall.

Smith is the only Republican left in the 12-seat New Jersey congressional delegation after Democrats flipped four seats in the 2018 midterm elections.

Stephanie Schmid, 39, a human rights activist who interned for Smith's congressional office when she was in high school 23 years ago, is preparing to join three other Democrats seeking the nomination to face Smith in the general election in New Jersey’s 4th District in 2020.

Schmid, who moved back to New Jersey earlier this year after resigning as legal counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights in Washington, told WHYY radio in New Jersey that her high school internship with Smith introduced her to human rights issues — but also helped her recognize that his political identity did not align with hers.

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“Even though I was only 16, I knew then that we did not share the same values, particularly when it comes to women’s rights and equality,” Schmid said.

She is planning to formally announce her bid for office on Saturday.

Schmid indicated in her interview with WHYY that she plans to run against Smith and the Trump administration’s staunch opposition to abortion access, including a proposed measure that would bar foreign NGOs from receiving U.S. aid if they offer abortion services.

Smith, who has represented central New Jersey since the Reagan administration, won reelection in 2018 by 13 percentage points, his lowest margin of victory in decades.

But he is still considered a heavy favorite to win the district in 2020, with Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rating the race Solid Republican.

Smith has built his political image in the district on a commitment to constituent services and bills targeted at helping various groups, including families of people with Alzheimer's disease, children with autism, and military veterans, New Jersey Republican Party chairman Doug Steinhardt told WHYY.

Schmid must emerge from what is now a four-candidate Democratic primary in order to face Smith next November.

Lobbyist Tiffany Kaszuba, holistic “life coach” Christine Conforti, and writer David Applefield have all joined the race against Smith.

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