In 1988, New Jersey Democrats had three Committee Chairmen

Few Washington insiders believe New Jersey Congressman Christopher Smith has much of a chance to win the chairmanship of the House International Relations Committee if the GOP hold control of Congress in the 2006 election. Last year, the House Republican leadership deposed Smith as Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee for not being conservative enough for their needs. Smith faces three other House members in the contest to replace Henry Hyde as head of the powerful foreign relations panel. Despite their seniority, New Jersey Republicans have had little success in securing positions of influence in the Congress. In addition to Smith, Marge Roukema was passed over for the chairmanship of the House Financial Services Committee in 2001, Jim Saxton lost a bid to head the House Natural Resources Committee in 2003, and Rodney Frelinghuysen lost his Appropriations Subcommittee Chairmanship in 2005. Still, New Jersey Republicans are split over the contest to succeed Tom DeLay as House Minority Leader. One Capitol Hill staffer suggested that New Jersey Republicans might be better off trading a united block of six votes in exchange for assurances that leadership won’t pass over New Jerseyans in future battles for key committee chairmanships.

In 1988, New Jersey Democrats had three Committee Chairmen