Home>Campaigns>Monmouth Democratic leader recruiting Virginia congresswoman to challenge Chris Smith

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Virginia). (Photo: Ezra Deutsch Feldman).

Monmouth Democratic leader recruiting Virginia congresswoman to challenge Chris Smith

Red Bank native Abigail Spanberger asked to run in NJ-4 after Virginia redistricting didn’t go her way

By David Wildstein, December 22 2021 2:32 pm

A Democratic congresswoman from Virginia who was gerrymandered out of her swing House seat is being courted to move back to New Jersey to challenge Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Hamilton) in New Jersey’s 4th district.

Monmouth County Democratic Chairman David Brown wants Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who grew up in Red Bank, to return to her home county and run for office.

“We are incredibly saddened by the redistricting of VA-07 and for the loss of your incredible representation to those constituents who no longer have the pleasure of having you serve as their congresswoman,” Brown said in a letter to Spanberger.  “However, we do see this as an opportunity to recruit a well-respected and talented congresswoman to mount a serious campaign against our deeply entrenched congressman.”

Spanberger lived in Red Bank until she was 13.  She worked as an operations officer for the Central Intelligence Agency and as a postal inspector working on money laundering and narcotics cases before she ousted a Republican incumbent in 2018 by two percentage points in a red district.  Spanberger was re-elected by less than two points in 2020.

“We are actively recruiting to find the candidate to take on long-time incumbent Chris Smith in NJ-04 and we think that you could be that individual,” Brown told the Democratic congresswoman.  Your voting record, cross-party appeal, and ability to speak bold truth would be the perfect fit in this district.”

A Democratic map approved today by the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Commission moved Smith’s hometown, Hamilton, into the 3rd district

Smith, a 21-term Republican and the longest-serving congressman in New Jersey history, says he will run in the 4th, which he’s represented since 1981.  Most of the Ocean County municipalities had been in Kim’s district had already been represented by Smith in previous maps.

“The Republican Party is strong in Monmouth County, therefore, our candidate needs to be a skillful campaigner and successful fundraiser,” Brown wrote.  “Your reputation on these abilities makes us believe that you would be a formidable opponent.”

As of her 3rd quarter filing, Spanberger had more than $2.4 million cash-on-hand.

Spanberger would not be the first person to move back to New Jersey after an extended absence to seek a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Three members of the current delegation returned to the home state to run for Congress: Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes), Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) and Kim, who worked on the White House staff of President Barack Obama until early 2017.

Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) grew up in Virginia before relocating to Montclair.  And First Lady Tammy Murphy is a Virginia native.

Spanberger’s Richmond-based district was wiped out in Virginia’s redistricting, but the Richmond Times-Dispatch has reported that the two-term Democrat is preparing to run in a Northern Virginia House district that is about 50 miles away from her hometown.

“As a woman who was raised in Red Bank, we know that you hold the values of those living in Monmouth County and we need someone like you who can fight for the needs of our community,” Brown said.

A spokesman for Spanberger did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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