Democratic congressional candidate Josh Welle has brought on an experienced political operative with strong New Jersey connections to manage his campaign against 19-term incumbent Chris Smith.
Michael Bland comes with an impressive resume that includes working for the Obama re-election and for Sen. Jon Corzine. He’s also the son of veteran political insider Kellie Drakeford, who has been a fixture in New Jersey politics for decades.
He was the Deputy Field Director of the Obama-Biden campaign in North Carolina in 2012, ran Hartford (Connecticut) Mayor Pedro Segarra’s campaign, and was field director for Rep. Elizabeth Etsy (D-CT). In 2008, he worked for Joe Biden in New Hampshire. Bland lost a bid for Long Branch Councilman in 2010, at age 24.
Welle looks like an impressive challenger against Smith. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, he spent twelve years on active duty, including a tour in Afghanistan. He’s now a reservist, and runs a software company. Welle entered the race last month and has already raised about $185,000.
“The people of New Jersey’s 4th District deserve a representative who has protected us at home and abroad. Josh understands real leadership and real service,” Bland said in a fundraising solicitation for Welle. “He cares about all people, no matter their race, religion, sexual orientation, or socio-economic level. He cares about this country more than anything.
Drakeford held senior positions on the staffs of Senators Bob Menendez and Bob Torricelli, Gov. Jim McGreevey and Pallone. She was the Region II Administrator for the Small Business Administration under President Obama.