2013 was arguably the worst year in recent memory for American politics. Representative Chris Smith (NJ-4) did little to make it better for constituents. In fact, he caused obstructionism and jeopardized our health & wealth in dangerous ways. Let’s look at the details…

The Good:

* Smith was outspoken in the effort to bring aid to New Jersey for Superstorm Sandy relief.  
* He also secured funding for the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan.

Sadly, the list doesn’t get much longer than that.

The Bad:

* Voted for the government shutdown that removed $24 billion from the US economy. Smith stated that "President Obama has not acted like an adult," and tied the shutdown to the healthcare law. Remember, the ACA survived passage through Congress once, a Supreme Court challenge, and a presidential election. Chris Smith's complaint is that the president is not acting like an adult.

* Despite even more evidence illustrating the harmful impact of fracking on the environment, Smith voted to deregulate fracking on federal and tribal lands.  

* Smith blocked a vote to extend unemployment insurance benefits to the longterm unemployed. His Christmas present to struggling families all over the country impacts 90,000 New Jersey residents and costs the state 20,000 jobs.

* Smith was outspoken in support of more pointless repeals to the Affordable Care Act, which wasted lawmakers’ time, taxpayers’ money, and ultimately caused the federal government shutdown.

* Despite the fact that 99% of women use birth control at some point in their lives, Smith refused to pass a spending bill without first securing a way for employers to opt out of the contraceptive mandate in the healthcare law.

* Smith showed support for Hobby Lobby in its Supreme Court case to allow religion to dictate relations with employees. Representative Smith calls it a matter of religious freedom for employers to discriminate against employees. In his own words, “President Obama’s use of the coercive power of the state to force people of faith and people of conscience to violate their fundamental convictions or suffer severe penalty is unconscionable and violates the basic principles of religious freedom that are so central to our Constitution.” This dangerous precedent opens the floodgates for our employer to choose which vaccinations, antibiotics, or lifesaving transfusions our families are allowed to have. By taking on birth control, he is taking on our right to health and safety.

The Missed Opportunities:

* Where was Smith when Superstorm Sandy money was mismanaged? Between New Jersey and the Philippines, Smith has seen firsthand the devastating effects of these enormous storms, but has chosen silence over being a leader. Instead, New Jersey has opted to ignore climate change in its Post-Sandy rebuilding efforts.We are spending billions of dollars to repair the damage of Superstorm Sandy. Why aren’t we preparing for the future?

# The Superstorm Sandy relief bill passed Congress, but there weren’t rules in place for how New Jersey homeowners would get the help they needed. The money was held up in the state, and disproportionally impacted low-income and minority residents in the state. Even though there was a great effort to send aid to Sandy victims, Smith’s inaction on distribution is keeping families in hotels into the New Year.

* While the Senate moved and House Democrats showed a willingness to act on comprehensive immigration reform, Chris Smith remained silent. His strategy could be seen inaction when activists were snubbed and only contacted by phone. “Immigration is dead,” was the response they heard. Ironically, early in the year Smith was cited as a possible leader within the GOP on immigration reform.

* Smith has not acted at all on gun control, ignoring Moms Demand Action’s claim that the district is overwhelmingly in favor of such an effort.

* Despite his religious extremism and so-called status as a fiscal moderate, Smith was still approached by liberal groups to forge compromise.Whether it’s healthcare, gun control, or the government shutdown he continues to ignore constituents on the issues that matter.  

Chris Smith’s silence is detrimental to our district. Constituents approach him for compromise and we receive inaction. Advocacy groups go to him for assistance and get snubbed.

While NJ’s unemployment rate is higher than the national average, and families are struggling for food and housing, Smith brings poverty closer to reality. Even though immigration reform will generate more taxpayer dollars and stimulate the economy, Smith turns a cold shoulder.  While Sandy grants are tied up and mismanaged, Smith chooses to focus his efforts on taking away contraception and healthcare.

The question we would like to end the year with is this: Is this Representative really your representative?  

I’m Angela Gandolfo, a progressive Democrat running for congress in New Jersey’s 4th district against the Republican incumbent Chris Smith.

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