A group of eight Democratic municipal chairs in Monmouth County are coalescing behind Stephanie Schmid to challenge Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Hamilton) in New Jersey’s 4th district.
Schmid has won the endorsement of Ocean Township Democratic municipal chair Michael Beson, a longtime influencer in Monmouth County Democratic politics.
“We are ready for a new voice in the 4th District,” said Beson, a former mayor of Neptune and a Democratic state committeeman from Monmouth County. “In addition to Stephanie’s impressive background as an attorney and Foreign Service Officer, she has shown her commitment to engaging with people in our community and has already built an impressive grassroots organization that continues to grow, and I want to be part of her efforts to defeat Chris Smith.”
Six other Democratic municipal chairs joined Beson in endorsing Schmid: Susan Boyce of Rumson, Eric Brophy of Wall, Matt Cohen of Little Silver, Liz deBeer of Fair Haven, Christina Kocsis of Neptune City, Maria Rondinaro of Belmar and Meg Thomann of Freeholder Township.
Schmid, a former U.S. Department of State official who has raised over $200,000, has emerged as the clear front runner to take on Smith, also won the backing of Ocean Township vice chair Marissa Lambert and the Ocean Township Democratic Committee.
Howell Democratic vice chair Janice Iwanyk and Middletown Democratic committeewoman Tricia Maguire are also backing Schmid.
The race changed last week when former Asbury Park councilman James Keady dropped out of the race following the release of bizarre and sexually charged e-mails. A lesser known candidate, financial analyst Hassan Shehadeh, also ended his campaign last week.
That leaves retired journalist David Applefield and former United Nations staffer Christine Conforti to challenge Schmid in the Democratic primary.
Smith is seeking re-election to his 21st term in the U.S. House of Representatives. If he wins re-election, he will set the record as the longest-serving congressman in New Jersey history.
With 22,099 more Republicans than Democrats, the 4th is the only House district in New Jersey to become more Republican over the last decade. When the last map was drawn after the 2010 census, the district had 12,193 more Republicans than Democrats.
Smith was first elected to Congress in 1980, at age 27, after thirteen-term Rep. Frank B. Thompson, Jr. (D-Trenton) was indicted as part of the Abscam scandal. Smith won, 57%-41%, in a district that Ronald Reagan carried by three points.
Democrats thought they had a shot at beating Smith last year when Democrat Josh Welle raised $1.8 million, the often underestimated GOP congressman raised $1.5 million and won by 12 percentage points.
Correction: The New Jersey Globe had incorrectly identified Maguire as a municipal chair. She is a county committeewoman.