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Democratic congressional candidate Stephanie Schmid, right, with Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Ex-State Department official will announce challenge to Chris Smith next month

Stephanie Schmid worked for Center for Reproductive Rights

By David Wildstein, August 28 2019 9:07 pm

Stephanie Schmid, a former U.S. State Department official, will announce her bid for the Democratic nomination for Congress in New Jersey’s 4th district on September 7.

Schmid wants to take on 20-term Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Hamilton), the lone Republican in the New Jersey congressional delegation.

The 39-year-old Little Silver resident will become the fourth Democrat to enter the race against Smith, who announced this month that he will seek re-election next year.

She creates an interesting contrast to Smith, who has built a congressional career as a pro-life leader and champion of human rights issues as a member of the House Foreign Relations Committee.

From 2018 until last month, Schmid served as U.S. Foreign Policy Counsel to the Center for Reproductive Rights.   Before that, she spent seven years as a foreign service officer assigned to the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor – the office headed by now-Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill) when he was Assistant U.S. Secretary of State from 2014 to 2017.

A graduate of Yale and University of California, Berkeley Law School, Schmid was a law clerk to Judge Ronald Gould of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and U.S. District Court Judge George Daniels of the Southern District of New York.  She was a civil and white collar litigation lawyer before joining the State Department.

Both parties view a race against Smith as an uphill battle.

With 21,450 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.

Now 66, Smith is still younger than five other New Jersey House members, including freshman Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-Dennis).

Democratic insiders told the New Jersey Globe that there is no clear front-runner for the chance to challenge Smith.

Along with Schmid, former journalist David Applefield, lobbyist Tiffany Kaszuba and Christine Conforti, a holistic life coach, are seeking support for the Democratic congressional nomination.

Also reportedly considering another a third run for Congress is former Asbury Park Councilman Jim Keady, a favorite of Monmouth County progressive activists.

Keady ran in 2018 and lost the Democratic primary to Welle by 4,223 votes, a 57%-43% margin.

He lost a Democratic primary in the neighboring 3rd district in 2016 by 13,437 votes (63%-37%) and was defeated in a 2015 bid for State Assembly against Republican incumbents Sean Kean (R-Wall) and David Rible (R-Wall) by more than 10,000 votes.

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