The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) will begin Twitter ads targeting Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Hamilton) with the hope that he will not seek re-election in 2020.
“It’s tough to be a Republican in Washington right now, and frankly, we wouldn’t be at all surprised if Congressman Smith decides he’s had enough,” said Mike Gwin, a spokesman for the DCCC. “Whether it’s waking up each morning to read the President’s tweets that they’ll be answering for or slowly coming to the realization that they aren’t in control any more, we expect to see a steady stream of frustrated Washington Republicans heading for the exits.”
Smith was elected to the House in 1980 at age 27 and is showing no sign of slowing down. The New Jersey delegation has five Democratic members who are older than Smith.
Gwin said that retirements played a key role in Democrats recapturing the House last year. Just six of the sixteen Republicans on the 2018 DCCC retirement watch list remain Congress — some retired and some lost their seats — and Democrats think that they can expand their majority if Republican incumbents like Smith retire in 2020.
Democrats thought they had a shot at beating Smith last year when Democrat Josh Welle raised $1.8 million, the often underestimated Smith won by 12 percentage points.
Welle did no better than any highly-touted Democratic challengers over the years. Smith won the endorsement of the Asbury Park Press, which rarely backs Republicans.
After Smith ousted thirteen-term incumbent Frank Thompson in 1980, the Almanac of American Politics said he would turn out to be “a one-term Congressman.” Now Smith is the lone Republican in the twelve-member New Jersey House delegation.
The new DCCC retirement watch list has nineteen Republican names on it. It will be backed up by Twitter ads geo-targeted to individual congressional districts.
The 4th district, which includes parts of Ocean, Monmouth and Mercer counties, has 18,655 more Republicans than Democrats.