Rep. Chris Smith was reelected by a wide margin to a seat he’s held since 1981, closing the door on a seat Democrats had hoped to pick up this year.
Smith, New Jersey’s longest-sitting congressman, defeated Democrat Josh Welle by 13 points in what is perhaps the most safely-Republican district in the state. Smith secured 156,271 votes to. Welle got 119,394.
Because of the district’s lines, which heavily favor Republican candidates, the race drew less attention than those in New Jersey’s other Republican-held districts.
The challenger had hoped voters in the state dissatisfied with President Donald Trump’s first two years in office would carry him to victory, but Trump won the district by 15 points in 2016, and the last time a Democratic presidential candidate to win the fourth was Al Gore in 2000.
Still, Welle managed to outraise Smith, pulling in at least $1.6 million to the congressman’s $1.2 million. That money didn’t prove enough to win over the district, where there are almost 20,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats.
Welle’s campaign focused much of its efforts and spending against Smith’s stances on social issues like abortion and LGBT rights. That focus proved something of an ill fit for the district, despite the help Welle got on the trail from top Democrats like Gov. Phil Murphy.