Unable to run on his record after forty years in office, including a failure to help New Jersey families deal with a simultaneous pandemic and economic collapse, Representative Smith has discovered a political attack that is almost as old as his last public town hall, although that was even longer ago (27 years and counting).
Twenty three years ago, I was a 16-year-old intern in Representative Smith’s office who was thrilled to have the opportunity to intern in Washington, D.C. with a Representative from my home state of New Jersey. My short time with his office was uneventful, but educational. He was obviously wrong on many issues then, as he is now, but I was happy for the opportunity to serve. At the conclusion of my internship, as my (then, but no longer) Republican mother taught me, I sent him a thank you note for the opportunity.
Now comes the strangest political attack in a year that’s certainly full of strange ones. Smith has assigned his longtime Chief of Staff to attack me for…my thank you note?
No. Really. That’s the political attack he wants to make in 2020 – that a teenager was polite to him in 1997, complimenting him in ways that may have been more courteous than accurate.
I’ll admit I have a few different views than I did as a 16 year old in 1997. For example, I’m more committed than ever to making sure that New Jersey families get a fair shake out of Washington, work that Congressman Smith has largely abandoned. Also, over the last 23 years I have been an unwavering advocate for women’s rights at home and abroad both as a human rights attorney and in the United States Foreign Service. The bill I wrote, the Reproductive Rights Are Human Rights Act of 2019, has 180 co-sponsors but is being opposed by Smith and his more extremist colleagues, a situation I intend to change when I beat him and go to Congress come November.
Smith, however, is much the same as he was back then, only far more out of touch. These last couple of decades have further revealed Smith’s record as someone who really isn’t looking out for the interests of New Jersey families. He’s voted dozens of times to take away health insurance protections from people with pre-existing conditions like me. He’s let his colleagues skew the tax code to screw over New Jersey families. He’s worked diligently to ensure the government makes all abortion illegal – all of it – and even limit access to birth control. He takes sides against women and children by opposing the Violence Against Women Act which provides critical support for domestic violence victims. He chose to pick a fight against letting committed gay and lesbian couples adopt children – in 2018.
And, as I mentioned before, he has abandoned New Jersey families and left us to fend for ourselves during the deadliest plague in a century, and the economic collapse that has arrived with it.
I am committed to a series of debates with Representative Smith about the issues that matter most to New Jersey families in 2020. If he wants this debate to be about my teenage term of service with him, well, we can do that. I may have the opportunity, literally, to teach him some manners. How many public debates are you, Representative Smith, willing to have?
I can only assume he’s attacking my teenage self because he’s afraid of the adult who faces him now – with a record of service to America at home and abroad, and the intent to hold him accountable for a voting record that is out of touch with the needs of New Jersey families, and for abandoning us in our time of need. Change is coming. He should try to keep up.