Former intern of NJ’s lone Republican congressman wants his seat

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A former intern of New Jersey’s lone Republican congressman says that she wants his place in Congress.

Former foreign service officer Stephanie Schmid is among four declared candidates vying for the Democratic nomination to challenge Rep. Chris Smith in 2020.

"I grew up in New Jersey, but I also have relationships in Washington, D.C. I've written legislation, I've led coalitions pressuring the government for change,” Schmid says. "I think I have the most experience of anybody running."

Schmid spent part of the summer of 1997 on a nonpartisan, unpaid internship on Capitol Hill. She was assigned - based on geography, not political views – to Smith’s office.

"And it was very clear to me then, as it is now, that we do not share the same values,” says Schmid.

Schmid announced last month that she is seeking the Democratic nomination to run against Smith

"We lack a representative in Washington and he's somebody that isn't doing his job, and therefore he needs to go,” she says.

Smith's office declined to comment on the primary race. Smith is the longest-serving member of New Jersey's House delegation and has defeated Democratic challengers 20 times so far. But Schmid thinks that 2020 could be different.

"I am somebody who is a moderate on economic issues. I don't believe in raising taxes. I believe in helping out the middle-class family that's already struggling with the cost of living and their medical bills. And I believe in reaching across the aisle,” she says.  

Smith and Schmid have each faced scrutiny on their residency. Smith has owned a home in Virginia for decades and owns a home in Mercer County. Schmid moved to Little Silver from Washington in June, after spending time in Haiti and Brazil as a foreign service officer.

"I grew up in Bergen County, although I've been coming down here since I was a little kid. The Shore is absolutely my favorite part of this state. Took my first steps on the Boardwalk - I'm a Jersey girl,” she says.

Schmid says that she was devastated by President Donald Trump's election in 2016, but kept working for the administration for over a year. She resigned to take a job at the Center for Reproductive Rights. Smith's staunchly pro-life stance on abortion rights is part of the reason Schmid says that she is running against him.

"Women can't be full and equal citizens in this country or anywhere else in the world cannot be equal participants in the economy, in the education sphere in the community and the political environment unless they have the fundamental right to decide when, whether and how to bring children into this world,” Schmid says.

The other candidates running are David Applefield, Christine Conforti, Tiffany Kaszuba and Hassan Shehadeh.

News 12 New Jersey will be profiling those candidates and Rep. Smith as part of an ongoing series.

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