Congressman Chris Smith Does Not Support Expanded Background Checks

Diary rescue from Sunday. This is Francee’s first post at Blue Jersey. You might like to know that every Democrat in the NJ House delegation is a co-sponsor of this HR-1565, backed by the Brady Campaign, founded by President Reagan’s late press secretary James Brady and his wife Sarah. Brady died one month ago, from gunshot injuries suffered in the assassination attempt on Reagan’s life. Brady’s death has been ruled a homicide. There is no reason why sensible gun legislation should not have the support of both parties. HR-1565 was authored by Republican Rep. Pete King of NY. Only 2 members of his party have signed on to cosponsor; neither is from NJ. Smith has a chance to show real leadership here; I hope he shows it. Promoted by Rosi.

After hearing about the alarmingly high number of school shootings this year, 74 in 2014 alone, I decided to write a letter to my Congressman, Chris Smith.  Smith has refused to co-sponsor a federal bill, HR-1565, for Expanded Background Checks on firearms. This bill would help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and I wanted to know why he hasn’t supported it publicly.

Smith’s office responded to my inquiry with an explanation which included that he supported the Brady Handgun Bill in 1993.  Thank you Congressman for supporting common sense in 1993.  Due to NRA influenced politicians, much of the Brady Bill has become irrelevant.  So, Congressman, stating two decades old support of Brady in your response is also irrelevant.

What is relevant is that America leads developed nations in homicide by gun, suicide by gun, mass shootings,  accidental death of children by gun, school shootings, and women shot by domestic abusers.  Where is your current support for gun sense, Congressman?  


Have You Written to Your Elected Officials Lately?

Well, glad to see Gov. Christie's getting some mileage out of his self-serving videos at taxpayer expense. – promoted by Rosi

Have You Written to Your Elected Officials Lately? I have.

Recently I wrote to the triumvirate who represent my Legislative District, #4: Senator Fred Madden (D), Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D), Assemblyman Domenick DiCicco Jr (R), along with Washington Twp Mayor Matthew Lyons (D). The subject was the growing number of once-thriving, now vacant, retail properties in the Township (which will be a topic for a future diary).

I received two responses: one from Mayor Lyons, who thanked me for my concerns and suggested that I attend the next planning meeting . The other was from Assemblyman DiCicco, the sole Republican Legislator in my District, who expressed that he shared my concerns, and included the usual Republican boilerplate about making NJ more business-friendly. I believe he was sincere. I am disappointed by the silence form the two Democrats who represent my District, especially Mr. Moriarty, who is a Township resident and former mayor. At least Mr. DiCicco had the decency to respond. Perhaps he is the only one who realizes that he is up for re-election this year, and re-election is not a given.

I also wrote to the Governors office, one sentence:

“When can we expect the Governor to unveil his 2012 budget proposal?”

his reply below

Democrats Go Grassroots in Mercer

Some of the most watched campaigns in Central Jersey this season are Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein's race for Senate, Congressman Rush Holt's re-election in CD12 and Hamilton Council race of Joe Santo.    

This weekend, volunteers across CD12 and LD14 fanned out across the various communities to talk directly to voters about the importance of electing these three Dems on November 2nd.   These aren't your paid canvassers of years past.

Following the Obama for America model, they are using volunteers within the communities to reach out directly to voters.   As a 2004 Yale study revealed, these kind of personalized door-to-door contacts are the most successful and cost effective ways to get a campaign message across.

Greenstein volunteers prepare to canvass in LD14
Greenstein volunteers prepare to canvass in LD14 at the Hamilton HQ on Route 33


At 10am Saturday morning, the Greenstein and Santo HQ’s campaign staff provided lists of voters, scripts of questions to ask, and maps of the streets to be canvassed. Volunteers included a mix of students (Rider, Rutgers, South Brunswick High School to name a few), teachers, state workers, Democratic committee people and a few first time political volunteers. Of course donuts and coffee were also provided to help fuel them on their way, and bottled water to keep them hydrated on the campaign trail.

Rating How Competitive New Jersey Congressional Districts Are: Nate Silver’s PPI Index

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com has just introduced his new “Partisan Propensity Index” (PPI). If you’ve been following elections closely, you’re probably already familiar with the Partisan Voting Index (PVI) from Cook, and similar statistics from Swing State Project. Cook’s idea is to look at how each Congressional District voted for President compared to the nationwide average. So, for example, the NJ5 district (Garrett’s) is rated R+7, meaning it voted 7 points more Republican than nationwide, while NJ13 (Sire’s) is rated D+21. You can see why Democrats had such a hard time even with a good candidate against Garrett, and why Republicans didn’t seriously contest NJ13 when Menendez left it. Unlike Congressional races, where often one candidate is hardly covered in the news and has hardly any campaign budget, the two party’s Presidential candidates are well known. The PVI index is widely used to identify competitive districts.  

Here’s Silver’s idea:

Are there any systematic differences in the ways that votes tend to fall for the Congress, as opposed to the Presidency? Are certain districts better or worse for Democrats, or Republicans, than PVI alone would suggest?

It turns out that there’s one other factor which is fairly useful to look at, which is socioeconomic status. Relative to how they do for the Presidency, Democrats are somewhat more likely to win races for Congress in poorer districts, and somewhat more likely to lose them in wealthier ones. Another way to put this is that a split ticket of Republican for President, Democrat for Congress is more likely to occur in a poor district, whereas a split ticket of Democrat for President, Republican for Congress is more likely to occur in a wealthy one.

Click through for the statistical analysis he uses. Silver expresses his PPI index as the chance for Democrats to win an open seat in an average election cycle, based solely on two factors: the recent Presidential Vote and the percentage of the population with incomes under $25,000/yr.  Here are the results for New Jersey:

District Name PVI PPI
NJ11 Frelinhguysen R+7 2.5%
NJ5 Garrett R+7 3.2%
NJ4 Smith R+6 10.9%
NJ7 Lance R+3 13.9%
NJ3 Adler R+1 27.9%
NJ12 Holt D+5 62.9%
NJ2 LoBiondo D+1 66.0%
NJ6 Pallone D+8 85.2%
NJ9 Rothman D+9 88.8%
NJ8 Pascrell D+10 96.6%
NJ1 Andrews D+12 97.0%
NJ13 Sires D+21 99.95%
NJ10 Payne D+33 99.998%

The main lesson, if you take this ratings seriously, is that New Jersey’s wealth makes the battleground Congressional districts lean Republican compared to how they vote at the Presidential level. In many states, the R+3 and even the R+7 districts have a great chance of going Democratic at the Congressional level, but here NJ5 and NJ7 are actually quite unfavorable, and should vote for the House like R+14 districts in the rest of the country. When we evaluate how our candidates did, it’s worth keeping this effect in mind.

Frank LoBiondo’s district is the poorest in New Jersey, and by this measure is slightly better for Democrats than Holt’s district, but we are stuck with the echo of 1994. In case it’s not obvious, being an incumbent matters, scandals matter, and cycles can be more or less Republican than the average cycle, and you should always remember that the most likely outcome doesn’t always happen. All of our 2010 races have incumbents so the percentages definitely do not apply. Also, this is the last election in the current districts.

Smith called a model of public service

The healthcare debate has allowed Congressman Chris Smith to get a good deal of attention and he now has a new distinction according to catholics.org along with Congressman Bart Stupak for getting their amendment included in the health bill that passed:

It is men and women like Bart Stupak and Chris Smith who are the models of public service for all Catholics and other Christians.

Smith has been pushing the abortion button relentlessly throughout the healthcare debate. For him, the healthcare bill itself has seemed more like an afterthought. Some people have said that the Stupak amendment is a poison pill in the Senate including Rachel Maddow talking about the bill on Meet the Press this past Sunday. There have since been 40 members of the house who have said they will not vote for any bill that contains the Stupak language in the final version:

By late Monday, Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado had collected more than 40 signatures from fellow members who vowed they would not vote for a combined House-Senate health care bill if it contains language “that restricts women’s right to choose any further than current law.”

It really is pretty amazing that while Congressman Smith pushed for this during the years that his party held the White House and controlled Congress, it took the Democrats taking control to have him get the results. It still remains to be seen whether the language of the Stupak amendment survives a conference committee, but it has made it this far.

… And the Rest

Before the Professor and Maryann got their due in the Gilligan’s Island theme song, they were known collectively as “the rest.” And that’s about how some of NJ’s House races, and the Senate race, must have felt this year.

With the Obama campaign sucking up so much of the oxygen (and money, and energy, and ultimately the very PA-bound volunteers themselves), most of what was left over was focused on the “hot” races in NJ-3, NJ-5, and NJ-7. Like so often in the past, if you weren’t running in one of the hot races, then you found yourself with scant attention being paid to your campaign.

In the case of Senator Lautenberg, and our 7 Democratic House incumbents, no news was good news. New Jersey’s voters delivered a solid double-digit win to its senior Senator, and sent the Magnificent 7 back to Washington with an average margin of victory of over 40%. But for Congressional Challengers in NJ-2, NJ-4, and NJ-11, it was a different story altogether.

We look at each of these races in more detail below the fold.  

Prediction Thread!

Use this handy-dandy form to post your winners in the NJ races.  Winner gets $7 in monopoly money from the old set in their closest.  Mine are after the jump.


Obama:    %

McCain:    %


Lautenberg:    %

Zimmer:    %


Adler:   %

Meyers:   %


Zeitz:   %

Smith:   %


Shulman:   %

Garrett:   %


Stender:   %

Lance:    %

The Money Battle — Republican and Open Seats

OK, now that FEC reports are out it’s time to check out how we are doing in Republican held and open seats.  Essentially the six seats with incumbent Democrats are pretty much safe, so these are the places where we might be playing.

The middle column shows where we are doing better than the Republican.  You expect that Dems would do well in NJ1 (see notes below about what a joke NJ1 is), but we are winning the money game in NJ3 and NJ7 as well — overwhelmingly.

Cand. 2Q$ CoH Adv Cand. 2Q$ CoH
Andrews (NJ1) $72,240 $15,611   Glading (NJ1) TBA TBA
Kurkowski (NJ2) $172,772 $89,773 LoBiondo (NJ2) $205,422 $1,491,954
Adler (NJ3) $738,683 $1,463,747 Myers (NJ3) $241,762 $155,406
Zeitz (NJ4) $114,053 $124,535 Smith (NJ4) $143,300 $503,944
Shulman (NJ5) $234,249 $258,381 Garret (NJ5) $293,963 $649,003
Stender (NJ7) $494,265 $1,100,000 Lance (NJ7) $191,107 $80,792
Wyka (NJ11) $11,112 $15,540 Hot Rod (NJ11) $121,330 $717,893

One source of mystery is Dale Glading, who is running in NJ1 against the alleged candidate Camille Andrews (whose fundraising once again demonstrates she is not a real candidate).

A search for Glading, Republican, NJ, House on FEC.gov produces no results for contributions or disbursements of any kind.  No July Quarterly report has been filed, but at the least as of primary day Glading had raised no money.

That means, as near as I can tell, there are no real candidates running in NJ1.  Sheesh.

Update: This is updated to include the pre-primary filing numbers.  The CoH numbers were accurate last night, but after the comments it was updated to include the whole quarter.