Alan Bateman, the Republican who plans to challenge U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-Hamilton) in this year’s primary, does not think that Smith’s headline-generating trip to Brazil diminishes his chances against the 29-year incumbent.
“Chris’s record on human rights is unquestionable, but so is his support for card-check, cap and trade, the bailouts, cash for clunkers, and programs like that,” said Bateman, a businessman and former deputy mayor of Holmdel who challenged his own district’s congressman, 12th District U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-Princeton), in 2008. “He won’t be able to hide behind the good that he has done when it comes time to talk about his damaging votes on the economy.”
Smith just returned from a trip to Brazil, where he helped Tinton Falls resident David Goldman secure custody of his nine-year-old son in a case that was widely followed by the national press corps.
It was not the first time Smith made an overseas trip to reunite a family. In 2008, in the midst of his reelection campaign against a spirited, if long-shot challenge by Democrat Joshua Zeitz, Smith traveled to the Republic of Georgia after its invasion by Russian troops to bring home two young Monmouth County girls who were there visiting his grandparents.
That kind of publicity tends to play well in general elections, but Bateman thinks the conservatives who dominate the primary electorate have other priority issues, and that not even Smith’s status as one of Congress’s most vocal abortion opponents will save him.
“Yes, he’s pro-life, but I’m also pro-life. But I also am pro-life in the womb as well as out of the womb,” said Bateman. “His voting record of more and more government is just eliminating and taking away opportunities for families.”
Bateman, who had raised $1,750 as of September 30, said reports will show him having raised $15,000 to $20,000 for this quarter. He expects to be out-raised by Smith, who has never been a prolific fundraiser and currently has about $120,000 on hand.
“I don’t need to match him dollar for dollar, but I do need to raise enough to let people know what his record is. Because one of the things I’m discovering as I talk to people is that they do not know his real voting record over the years,” he said. “I’m a conservative Republican, both fiscally and socially, and that’s the message I’m going to communicate.”