Rev. Shawn Hyland, the former executive director of the Family Policy Alliance of New Jersey, will announce today that he’s dropping out of the race for Conrgess in New Jersey’s 4th district and will endorse Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Hamilton) for re-election to a 22nd term.
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An ordained minister from Ocean County, Hyland had announced in October that he would seek the GOP nomination to take on Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) in the 3rd district. After congressional redistricting moved his hometown into the 4th, he announced he would challenge Smith in the Republican primary.
“A Better America has always been the battle cry of my campaign—that our nation would renew our spirit of civility, stand by our convictions, and dedicate ourselves to the common good,” said Hyland, “Congressman Smith has a record that embodies those values. I’m concluding my campaign for Congress but continuing my fight for a better America alongside Chris Smith, who I’m proud to endorse.”
Smith will join Hyland in Toms River at noon for the endorsement announcement.
“Congressman Chris Smith embodies the core values of A Better America—civility, conviction, and the common good. I cannot in good conscience campaign for a better America knowing I would be challenging a congressman who practices those ideals in the halls of Congress each day,” Hyland said. “My congressional run was never about Shawn Hyland, it was always about A Better America. Smith is like minded with me and shares the same heartbeat on social issues.”
This brings the number of Republican primary challengers to Smith down to five.
Conservative podcaster Mike Crispi entered the race on Monday. His campaign will be directed by Roger Stone, a controversial former top advisor to President Donald Trump and a fixture in GOP campaigns since the 1970s.
Englishtown Councilman Daniel Francisco, realtor and U.S. Army veteran Mike Blasi, David Burg, a former head of litigation for NBCUniversal, and perennial candidate Tricia Flanagan are also in the race. Englishtown is now in the 3rd district.
Smith, 68, was elected to Congress in 1980 after ousting thirteen-term House Administration Committee Chairman Frank Thompson (D-Trenton). Thompson was under indictment for his role in the Abscam scandal. He is now the longest-serving congressman in state history.
The 4th district, which become more solidly Republican under a new congressional map approved last month.
Hyland said he decided to run for Conrgess “to be a relentless voice for a better America, one with stronger families, safer neighborhoods, better schools, and more economic growth.:
“I want to thank all of my supporters who believed in me and what we would do together in 2022 and beyond,” he said. “I hope my supporters will come out and give Congressman Smith the same support they have already shown me.”
Smith said he was grateful for Hyland’s support.
“The fabric that holds American society together—that unifies and makes us strong—is tearing. Civil discourse has become increasingly mean-spirited, laced with lies and devoid of seeking the common good,” Smith said. “Agree or disagree—but do it with respect.”
The longtime congressman also took a firm shot at the left, and at President Joe Biden.
“Crime is exploding at a time when some progressive democrats are disrespecting and defunding police,” Smith stated. “Peace can only be secured through a strong and capable military led by a commander-in-chief who fully understands the art of diplomacy coupled with deterrence.”
This story was updated at 1:05 PM with comment from Smith.